Run the World Clothing, rooted in Sankofa and African heritage, makes a bold statement in a modern way. Ria Garewal and Darrin Wallace recently attended the unveiling of their Fall/Winter collection: “Pioneers of Sankofa,” and unpacked that event, and also talked about the birth of Run The World, and Vic Sandifer’s – one of the founders – community empowerment brand.
Often times, when clothing is trying to make a political statement, things can go terribly wrong. With that being said, Run the World does an amazing job of blending color, style, and the desire to give back to the world without overwhelming you with political rhetoric, but they do have a message.
Vic Sandifer and Demont Oliver, founders and creators of Run the World clothing, had a vision with this line.They wanted their clothing to tell a story of “Pioneers of Sakofa.” The premise of the clothing line is “looking back and giving back to the world with your God given talents and passions.” It takes a lot to quit your job and chase your dreams, so I caught up with Victor to see what motivates him as an emerging designer in the bay area. We met at Suru Marketplace, where he prepared to ship online orders and merchandise. We
Because Oakland has always been a place for activists and revolutionaries, people may sometimes see a “cause” as a trend. Fortunately, there is an authentic feel of culture and history in RTW clothing and it showed in the brands presentation of their fall/winter line.
As the first 25 guests filed down into a dark basement, faint views of the performance ahead were seen from my peripheral. The show opens with a monologue about the African people, pre-enslavement and colonization, about how they were the most progressive scientists and thinkers of their time. The show develops into the Harlem Renaissance, highlighting the art, music and writing that exploded into Black culture in America. Performers croon, as soft piano plays in the background, outfitted in the varsity jackets, with the Sankofa symbol on one side and “Look Back, Give Back, To the World” written on the other. From the Harlem Renaissance we move to the civil rights movement, a powerful scene with images from the civil rights movements playing on a blank wall washing over the models dressed in green military pants and “Power to the People” hoodies.
This scene bleeds into Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” video, as a nod to hip-hop and its influence on Black culture. Lastly, we experience the revolution. An interchangeable scene of Black Panther Party activists or modern day citizens standing up against the times, the models are lined up, fists in the air, dressed in there “Run the World” military green parkas, making a statement that the past and the future are interchangeable depending on how we act NOW.
INTERVIEW WITH CREATOR VIC SANDIFER
When did you fall in love with fashion?
“I’m not sure when I fell in love with fashion, but I know that I was just always interested in how people looked, and really observant of what and how people wore things. I think the fuel came from being a super avid Kanye West fan, and I’m not talking about 2013+ Kanye, but like the 04’ Kanye because he would say “I’m the best dressed rapper in the game” and no one was talking like that, or trying to be that. He made me feel like I can be the best dressed at school or where ever I go. My love for fashion is kind of organic, but that was one of the times I could put a face to what I wanted to do for myself.”
Where did Run The World begin?
Run The World initially started off as a fashion blog. I had a friend from high school who was a graphic designer working on some logos for the blog, and I wanted it to be my initials used in some form, so he brought me some sketches. One of the logos was a stick figure, the V and S as arms and legs and the head was a globe. For some reason that logo really stuck out. While meeting with one of my mentors Quamé, we thought to call the blog “Run the World” and the idea was “let the world be your runway.” I just built off that. After the blog I still wanted to do a fashion line, and the name carried over. I added and switched up some meanings, but the idea is that we as the people of the world should run the world; it shouldn’t be a small group of people. Like how the Panthers said “all power to the people” the majority, all of it should be for the people.”
What were some of your fears starting out?
“The unknown. You just don’t know. You have an idea, you assume, hypothesize that people are going to like it. It’s really about that leap of faith. When you work for someone else you know you’re getting paid eight hours a day. But, when you’re an entrepreneur and you start something from the ground, getting paid isn’t guaranteed. That’s the scariest part, but I think the reward is even better. Everything starts with an idea, you think ‘I have this product, I’m going to make it and people will buy it.’ You show your friends the pictures and concepts and they tell you its dope and that they’ll buy it. When you finally have it printed up, all you hear are crickets. Doubts sink in, but everyone starts off unknown. It seems like it happens overnight, but there really is a grind people go through you think, ‘is what I’m doing right?”
Victor handles a sale as someone purchases one of his new Run The World baseball caps, which speaks to his community oriented mentality and entrepreneurial spirit.
Since making Run The World fulltime priority, what are some ways you take care? Stay cool?
“Playing basketball, and shopping. Even if you don’t shop, you get that time to walk around. Everybody has a destination in mind, so most time people aren’t focusing on you so you can just walk around the mall. I like the feeling of being around people but no one talking or looking at me. I can just be in my bubble. Time with friends and family is important as well. I think this work is my life’s work, it’s very much a part of who I am, when I’m awake.”
Whose hustle do you admire?
“I admire most is my uncle, Sean Diddy Combs (chuckles). Uncle Diddy has the keys to life. I admire his hustle, and the biggest thing for me is his ability not to make excuses. How he was at Howard and had this school mindset then took take this leap of faith and stopped going to school to be an intern for no money at Uptown. He navigates all the worlds I see myself navigating, and when everyone was going crazy over Dr. Dre and the release of Beats, he came back the following years with Ciroc and Revolt. “You see us in the club, with Ciroc by the tub, we working.” He shows that you can make it. We all know its set up so that certain groups of people make it farther than others but he has that ‘no matter what’ mindset.”
Whose hustle do you hope to inspire?
“I want to be an inspiration to the young black man and woman who wants to do something different from the norm; for those who want to be something bigger than how the world portrays them or wants them to be. Skill is universal, everyone is good at certain things but the opportunity to show those skills is what limits people. My deal is to be an opportunity for young Black people who have a dream but don’t really have any guidance, so then they can see that I’m a person that they can identify with physically or given their story and background. Not only do I want to be their inspiration, but I want to put my money, time, and resources behind them too. I want to give people my time and take the youth under my wing. Having younger people help with the logistics of Run The World is how I give folks first hand experiences. I also want to inspire the have-nots and the people in general. I want to be apart of minimizing the gap between those that have and those that don’t.”