Fresh to death: A handful of Atlanta’s finest indie fashion designers

Trailblazing your way into the world of fashion design is no simple feat. Three young Atlanta fashion designers shared the stories of their startups, plus a few style tips.

Shakon Sleming of Sincerely Fresh

What started off as a graphic tee clothing line jumped to the next level when Shakon Sleming’s style changed into a more expensive taste. Since he couldn’t afford the style of clothing he wanted, he decided to make them.

“Fresh is a way of life,” Sleming said. “It’s always refreshing, reinventing and staying on top.”

After finishing high school, Sleming taught himself to sew and began making pants and shirts for himself and for his friends to build up his skills and confidence.

“It takes so much time and a lot of patience when you’re selling clothing because every line has to be perfect, has to be straight and the quality has to be really good.”

Sleming is currently operating his clothing line through word of mouth, but plans to break out big when he is ready. In the meantime, he builds up the message behind his brand: to inspire someone to follow their dreams, no matter what the boundaries are.

One boundary he is struggling with is mass production, but when he thinks back to how hard he had to market himself just a few years ago, he is immediately motivated to work harder and to never give up.

Fashion Tip: “Wear what makes you comfortable and dress for yourself, not others. Your style is your voice when you simply don’t have much to say.”

Zeus Onikoyi of PieceGod/TRAP Clothing

Zeus Onikoyi’s design career began with art.

“I love drawing and, whenever I drew people, I characterized them as their clothes,” Onikoyi said. “I knew how to draw, so I thought, ‘Why not just make the clothes that you draw?'”

When he was hired at the Wish Atlanta clothing boutique, he learned the ins and outs of creating and owning his own brand.

His current brand, PieceGod, started its first collection, TRAP, which is inspired by the everyday Southern lifestyle.

“The TRAP culture is basically how you choose to get your money – how you choose to survive,” said Onikoyi. “That’s the state you’re trapped into.”

The brand has received a lot of attention from artists like Kendrick Lamar and Future, and Onikoyi has already begun selling in Atlanta and Detroit as well as online.

“The hardest part is being young and getting people to take you seriously.”

Despite his young age, Onikoyi has big plans for his brand: stores in Atlanta, London and New York or Detroit.

Fashion Tip: “I’m really into military culture, so when it comes to fashion — especially in winter – you can’t go wrong with the color combination of olive green and orange.”

David Dng of Rar3 Designs

With his business partner Jasmine Stoval, Dng is creating his own line of clothing with one goal in mind: be exceptionally uncommon.

When he was little, Dng would see his mother customize and sew African fabrics together. But a desire to step out of the fashion box of everyone around him is what motivated him to follow in her footsteps and create his own brand that is out of the norm.

“People like it, but it shocks them,” said Dng.“I like to be the creator, not the follower. I like to be the first.”

He’s carrying on the idea of having your own fashion and being rare through his Rar3 Designs: The brand sells a limited amount of items, ensuring that the name and style stays exclusive.

Being a student and juggling his own business is a struggle for the 22-year-old, but the streaks of inspiration that come to him late at night make it all worth it.

“When you love something you always find time for it,” he said.

Fashion Tip: “Don’t be into fashion. Let fashion be into you. Create your own image.”