I recently spent close to two hours on set with two of the brains behind Azure Studios, the makers of the Odboih brand of apparel.
As managing partner Jamar Odwin and creative director Daniel Nicholas prepared for our photoshoot, I took a few minutes to examine the shirts Jamar and upcoming model Kiara Walrond would wear.
It is here that I must confess I’m a bad interviewer. Although I noticed the slogan “Made for you by us” at the bottom of each design, during our chat I never asked what it meant to them.
The truth is by the time the shoot with Nu Visual Media was over, I’d already come up with my own interpretation of those five words. These shirts are made for people with a discerning eye by a group of young Barbadians with a unique perspective.
In addition to Jamar and Nicholas, the odBoih team includes design consultant Nicholas Roach, tie dye specialist Ashlee Blades and sales reps Java Sealy and Rebecca White. All of them are between the ages of 17 and 25.
Jamar recalls that odBoih had pretty simple origins.
“OdBoih was started when we were all at the [Barbados] Community College doing Graphic Design. As you know BCC is pretty much school five days a week and you want something to wear school which is kinda cool but still cost effective. Back then it was mostly stores like Nulook, Gotya, Beyond Surf where you had to be buying a single shirt for $85 or so.
“So if you buy one shirt that was normally like your ‘out shirt’ because you’re not going to be wearing that school. That’s your favourite shirt so we created something that you could be able to get a couple to wear school, to wear out whatever the case may be and not have to worry about wearing your favourite shirt to school.”
Offering shirts to the public came at a later date. Danny says it was born out of a desire to produce a home-grown product in a market where big brands like Old Navy and Aeropostale were hugely popular.
“It was like we saw something in our culture that was lacking. We wanted to create something that we at home could be proud of,” he says.
If you thought that the brand was only a hit with young people, you would be wrong. Jamar says despite its college-based origins, even middle-aged party goers are lapping it up.
“Now we have persons that are more mature than our original target audience and they’re the ones that are pretty much, as they would say, lapping it up. As soon as new stuff is out they like to know so . . . we make sure these persons are the persons who know what’s out before pretty much everyone else .”
Now if you’re wondering about the designs you see throughout this post, they are updates of some of the team’s earliest work.
“A lot of persons now don’t really know about odBoih in terms of when we first started. The headphones, what we call the bell . . . those were some of our first designs. We like to call this collection The Classics Revisited,” Jamar says.
Danny notes that many of the designs were inspired by art including the Razzle Dazzle technique (above) which was used to camouflage ships during World War I. It is here that Jamar jumps in to credit art history teacher Lilian Sten for her influence.
“It was in her classes that we came across a lot of what our shirts are inspired by. It was a lot of art history and projects where you had to create something modern from something ancient,” he says.
Odboih releases new designs about three or four times per year while Azure Studios also produces the D’Culture line which is usually for Independence and AnimeLove which is for Animekon.
The shirts are inarguably their most popular product but odBoih has also produced dresses, snapbacks, bracelets, necklaces and even swimwear. Daniel assures me that there are other products in the pipeline as well so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled.
Other things we can possibly look out for are an odBoih store and website- things Jamar believes will help to brand to stay connected with customers.