Photography WADE HUDSON
Foreword by KENDRA GOMES
Special thanks to 1903: A HARLEY-DAVIDSON CAFÉ
In a world where brands seem to be continuously playing it safe, recycling the same SKU’s over and over again, it is with great pleasure that we highlight Chee Maduekwe’s “Abundunce” collection. This young designer perfectly embodies the vibrant nature of Toronto’s underground culture through his clothing. He consistently illustrates the grittiness, the drama, and the aesthetic of his city’s surroundings through cryptic messages and political graphics. Chee’s fearlessness and ability to maintain originality in his designs plays a large part in why so many tastemakers in Toronto’s creative scene have embraced his brand.
Abundunce is charging into the market with vigor and inventiveness, making the brand a force to be reckoned with within streetwear — not to mention the streetwear category itself blossoming into an array of sub-genres, such as high-end street. Without a doubt Abundunce will flourish to become a mainstay amongst some of your favourite brands.
What makes Abundunce stand out in this competitive industry next to brands such as Supreme, Dime, or Cav Empt?
What makes Abundunce standout is first and foremost, it’s from Toronto. There hasn’t been any brand in recent history that has done what I’m trying to do. Even those brands you mentioned, although I look up to them, the themes and the social commentary come from a different place than the world has grown accustomed to. It’s streetwear/menswear from a downtown Toronto lens.
How was Abundunce evolved since it first started back in 2011?
Abundunce has evolved a lot since I started in 2011. I actually started off with a partner, which didn’t last very long. Since then, I’ve seen a lot, and been through even more, so my perspective on a lot of things has changed and grown and you can see it my work. To start I began exclusively with T-shirts and hoodies but eventually I was able to spend a year and half in fashion school. Being there I learned a lot about how to actually design clothes and also how to sew, so from there I began adding cut and sew pieces into my collections, and that continues to grow with each collection.
I want people to feel the brand and what it represents.
That’s the most important thing for me.
How has Toronto responded to Abundunce? In regards to audience and popularity?
So far I think people have responded well to the brand. I think for the most part people get it, and understand the vibe and the mood the brand offers. That understanding will only grow with each collection I put out.
What are some issues you run into as a designer starting from the ground up? How do you usually build a budget around a collection?
Money and time management are two of the biggest issues that I run into the most. Money for obvious reasons, but time management also because starting a brand involves so much work and running around, and it’s on you alone to manage everything and do it right. Also, really just being disciplined, it’s pretty cliché but it’s one of the things that will fuck you up if your not. Nobody is above watching over you making sure you get things done so it’s up to you.
Tell us about the manufacturing and production of your clothing?
What’s important about all this is really finding the right people to make your stuff. I’ve had so many different sorts of horror stories in regards to production. So be aware, try to be as hands on as possible, especially in the infant stages of your brand.
Why is it so important to build a culture around a brand, specifically yours? How has the experience been trying to build an audience?
It’s important to build culture especially for my brand because not only do I want to make nice clothes aesthetically, I want people to feel the brand and what it represents. That’s the most important thing for me. That comes with the building an audience. I feel it’s important for people to have a connection with the brand beyond aesthetics and how it looks, but more of what it means and stands for. My experience has been great, meeting new people and finding out more from them helps me understand my demographic better, but it’s still a work in progress.
So be aware, try to be as hands on as possible,
especially in the infant stages of your brand.
What are some of your inspirations in your designs? What are you influenced by?
My design inspirations range. I’m often inspired by what’s going on in the world. Theres so many fucked up/funny/crazy/sad things in this world and I use them to relate how I and the people around me feel about certain issues. Also, a big inspiration is just simply being downtown and the people around me. I’ve been able to experience a lot and have met a lot of cool people; it’s opened my eyes to a lot of new things and ideas which have helped me grow as a designer.
Tell us about your last collection drop? What are you working on next?
My last collection released was from Spring Summer 2016, called “Still Waiting”. The name really comes from the struggles of being young designers and artists in this generation. And really the collection just outlines some of the themes that surround me. Next coming up for me is prepping my fall collection that’s going to be titled “Total Panic”. I’m excited for it and I plan on taking a major stride as a designer.
Keep up with Abundunce on Instagram for purchase info and future releases.