Designer Stephen Ogaga was raised in London, an experience which would later inspire many of the designs in his SW8 line. After moving to the U.S., Stephen graduated in marketing from the University of South Florida, and worked in the marketing field before deciding to follow his passion for fashion and design. His line, SW8, was so named for the postal code of his childhood home in SW London. The line features custom leather street wear and prides itself on the use of high-quality materials and careful attention to detail.
- What does fashion mean to you? Fashion to me is an art. It’s a way for people to articulate their inner artistic character. I see people as blank canvases, and how we choose to dress ourselves or others is almost like putting brush stokes to that canvas. Fashion is a lifestyle and, just as in life itself, you should never be afraid to do something different. Push the bar of what society classifies as the norm to levels where they said it shouldn’t be, and then make them accept it.
- What do you hope to bring to Tampa Bay’s fashion scene? I hope to bring something new, fresh, and different. I want people to look at Tampa Bay fashion as not only a city where people wear jeans and t-shirts year around because we have this fabulous weather, but a city that is in sync and moving with the rest of the high fashion world.
- What matters to you the most as a designer? Two words…detail and perfection. When I design my pieces I really stress attention to detail. In fact, it’s part of my inner core values. Every detail that is added to a piece has to have a functionality for why it’s placed at that precise point on the garment. Whether it’s what angle my asymmetric seam lines are, to the scoop of my neckline, each detail is carefully thought out before it’s added to a piece. Next is perfection. Executing my details to perfection to where the end user looks at one of my pieces and says, “Yes, this is complete. There is nothing else that could have been done to this.” Once again that goes back to me seeing fashion as art.
- What makes your line unique? My line is unique because I feel like I design timeless pieces that everybody needs in their closet. When I design I don’t think about what’s trending for the moment, but what’s going to be in style forever. I want my pieces to be your go-to item in your closet. Your favorite one. The one that no matter what you buy while shopping, it’ll match with it perfectly. Take the Brixton joggers, for example. They can be dressed down with a pair of sneakers to run errands, or matched with your favorite heels for a night out on the town. Multiple uses, multiple functionally for the garment, multiple looks, I really believe in giving the customer the best value for their money.
- Your line, SW8, is centered on leather being the key material. What inspired you to go with leather? Leather is such an intimate material. The feel of it, the high fashion look of it, and even the smell of it is impeccable. I used leather because I felt like certain pieces that were in my closet needed to have been crafted out of leather. It was always me saying to myself “I wish I had these joggers in leather,” or “These waxed jeans would have matched perfectly with a leather t-shirt.” These weren’t articles of clothing that anybody created at the time, so I decided to start designing for myself key pieces that I felt completed a well-rounded wardrobe. I love leather. I love how it looks. I love the way it makes you feel when you are wearing it, but most of all, to create out of it.