One on One with Coreon Du, Creator Of WeDú

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WeDu

We have the pleasure of introducing the talent behind WeDú by Coreon Du, CEO and Head Creative Director, Coreon Du. He is known for his innovative and bold designs, aimed to provide clients with goods of exquisite quality and artistic style. The Angolan born visionary grew up dreaming of a life in fashion.

Attention to detail and a focus on high-quality product makes Coreon a true innovator in the high fashion market. With celebrity ambassadors already devoted to the brand, Coreon’s goods have garnered a strong reputation for aesthetic excellence and, most importantly, fashion forwardness.

The audacious designer talks to the QG about what inspires his fashion collections, the celebrities he is looking forward to working with and has a few important points for young designers looking to make it big in the fashion industry.

The Quintessential Gentleman caught up with Coreon in our exclusive interview below:

Photo Credit: Tiago Frazão

What inspired you to become a designer? Tell us a bit about how you started designing.

I actually started designing recreationally when I was a teenager. I was born in Angola but immigrated with my mom at age 8 due to the civil war which intensified in the 1990s and fortunately ended in 2002. First, I lived in in Portugal with my grandparents and then at 11 came to the U.S. where I lived in the Northern Virginia area near D.C. The experience of having to leave home really made me hungry for knowledge about my own culture and to keep my African identity alive.

As a teenager, I finally got the opportunity to visit some of the countrysides in my country for the first time and it was an eye-opening experience. It was around that time I started designing mainly things for myself, then my cousins and my aunts who really loved my work and it kind of grew from there.

Since the word started to spread whenever I spent my summer vacation from school time in Angola (where it’s winter during U.S. summer) , I started do some more design work especially in costume design for theatre as well as my first television gig styling a local soap opera between 2004 and 2005 while on vacation from college. When I finished college in 2006, I decided to move permanently from the U.S. to Angola.

As for WeDú by Coréon Dú that started much later. In college, I studied Mass Communication and Business Administration, however, I’ve always had a deep passion for music and also fashion. After graduating I worked mainly as a creative director in the advertising and television field back in Angola, and I took a leap of faith with some support from some older musicians in my family to start performing and recording musically.

I kept noticing that after most of my performances, with music videos and even in some my more popular TV work fans would always ask me where they could get the looks. So in around 2013-2014, I started trying to develop accessible versions of some fan favorite looks. I got some support from a local retail chain present in Angola and Namibia at the time so that I could actually have a straight to consumer product that would be easily available to my fan base in that region.

Why menswear?

WeDú by Coréon Dú is actually all unisex, including the fragrance. As the big catalyst for me starting to design it was the way people connected with my visual identity as an artist, to me art has no gender. So my focus is to create pieces that anyone of any gender identity, different body types and different cultures can appreciate while feeling comfortable and confident.

Maria Borges, Angolan model strikes a pose in WeDú Photo Credit

How have you tried to make WeDú its own identity?

It’s a fairly new brand, especially to international consumers. Back home people can fairly easily recognize it, but I’m only now starting a relationship outside my region. As someone who was trained and worked in the field of advertising and brand management, I know I have to be patient and humble enough to build a relationship over time with each market.

What’s the inspiration behind your current line?

I always try to stay true to the core values I set out for WeDú by Coréon Dú which is to promote confidence in your own personal style. The main objective I have with every collection always start with trying to bring comfort and fun my consumer’s everyday life, then I start adding layers.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive encouragement I got from my last collections, especially by other creative professionals who wear the brand themselves, and others who graciously included my last collections in that work. It was great exposure, however also means that I had to push myself further to avoid falling into something that I developed in the past and may have picked up as a trend elsewhere especially with bigger brands.

I’m proudly African and with a diverse background as my mother’s family is multi-racial. With this collection I’m really celebrating that diversity, I wanted it to feel very personal and intimate so I infused a lot of my Angolan identity using both from our region of Africa and from the Iberian Peninsula in Europe.

Cabo Snoop, a popular Afrobeats artist performs in WeDú

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

I approach fashion design very similarly to how I approach song-writing and my other creative processes. First I take a look at what’s going on in my own life and aspects where I can connect with others. I think that’s the beauty of being an artist, putting out work that can create a dialogue while allowing it to also translate commercially.

I was heavily bullied since I was the age of 8 for being an immigrant and especially for being African. That actually since then reinforced my drive to hold on to my cultural identity. As a result, it ends up in most of my work in one way or another. However, now that people are trying to look at African trends, I always try to go beyond the obvious. Research is a very important tool, so I like to mix my favorite things from specific parts of different African cultures with my favorite things international contemporary urban culture. I like to research and see how they can create synergy through design.

Men do not always pay attention to the way they dress. Give some advice to men – How should they dress to be stylish? And what 3 pieces should every man have in his wardrobe?

In my culture fashion is seen as somewhat therapeutic and personal style is seen as an important part of your personality as I actually explored in a recent documentary I directed, Bangaologia – The Science of Style.

As someone who grew up around African and European culture by family connection but was raised in the U.S., I do realize that men here can still be very self-conscious about expressing their personality in fashion which is the most visible manifestation of style.

In terms of pieces, I think comfort is key and the rule of thumb is if they make you feel good and smile at yourself in the mirror before you leave the house then you will wear it with confidence. As someone who struggles to find cool things to fit my body proportions, my main three would definitely be a versatile pair of shoes or sneakers that can easily transition from a more formal to a casual setting.

The second one would definitely be a nice durable top of your choosing. Button up shirts don’t always work for everyone, for instance, I live in t-shirts and sweaters. With the way menswear is advancing, there are lots of great options to fit people’s different styles whether they are more conservative or bold in their everyday fashion.

The third would definitely be any fragrance that makes you feel sexy and confident. Male confidence in today’s times I think is something that is taken quite for granted, but it’s really important. So more than just looking or being on trend, I think today’s man should wear fashion that makes him feel good about himself while remaining appropriate for the occasion at hand.

Do you have a male muse or is there a male in the industry that you would like to work with that could really bring one of your creative visions to life?

There are two and their quite different style wise. Yoji Yamamoto and Tom Ford.

I love Yamamoto’s interpretation of the body and how his part of that generation that transformed a certain kind of Japanese aesthetic into almost a mandatory staple in fashion. It’s really one of those professional history’s that shows you that you don’t have to always be loud to make beautiful art and beautiful fashion at the same time.

Tom Ford has transformed the Old Hollywood kind of glamour to something that is aesthetically accessible to people of different generations in modern times. His style is timeless with a fresh perspective, and his public persona is quite intriguing.

What advice would you give emerging black designers about the challenges they might face launching a brand?

Have a plan, don’t follow trends, be the best at what you do. I think more than anything it’s a matter of pushing yourself creatively, educating yourself about the business of fashion, not just the creative side, and acknowledging that it requires constant work and reinvention.

Photo Credit: Tiago Frazão

What can we look forward from WeDú ?

I’m still at the start of my journey, so the only thing I can say is I look forward to having the opportunity to keep growing and building a relationship with this new market.

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