The term artist is by no means limited to music— in fact, it is an umbrella term that can describe any creative. Although I usually focus on musicians, I recently had the opportunity to speak with Leek Fossett, owner of the rising brand Umile, and dissected his thoughts:
Please introduce yourself.
I go by Leek Fossett, but my full name is Malik Jawan Fossett-Rahim.
Tell us a bit about your brand, Umile.
It all started my senior year when a group of me and my friends wanted to do a clothing line. I came up with the name umile, which actually means humble in italian, and now I’m the only one that still pursued the line.
What made you stick with the brand? What does it mean to you?
I stuck with the brand because I have a passion for clothes and I’ve been trying to get my own clothing line started since I was a freshmen. Actually I’ve had a number of unsuccessful clothing lines and I finally stopped playing and stuck with the name. Where I’m from it’s really a dead zone and you have to either get a career or be stuck in the trenches. I’m finally sticking with something and not giving up.
What sets your brand apart from others?
I’m doing all this off the muscle I have. Nobody’s really helping me (not saying other fashion brands didn’t start like I did). Everything I put out is from my mind, my deepest thoughts. That’s why my clothes may seem to be very dark and lost and people like it– that’s really what I appreciate the most.
Where else do you draw inspiration from? Other brands perhaps?
It’s weird but I draw inspiration for my designs from people, things, and brands. Earl Sweatshirt’s album I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside was a big inspiration also. Janis Joplin’s music inspired one of my Shadow collection pieces. There’s a photographer named Masao Yamamoto who I’m heavily inspired by. Brand-wise I’ll look into some Rick Owens, Raf Simons, and also Black Scale.
What do you want to accomplish with Umile?
I want to accomplish the world if that’s possible. I wanna be on the runway with top fashion enthusiasts amazed by my clothes. I want all the blogs waiting for what I drop next. Where I’m at in my life is just the beginning; wait till next year around this time I’ll be up there.
What’s the next step for you?
My next step is to drop my Shadow hoodie collection, see where that takes me, and keep working hard to promote my clothing line. I already am working on a shirt for my spring line.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
The biggest lesson I learned is that nobody will give you shit. It’s all about connects and who you know and sometimes you kinda gotta tear the wall down yourself. You’ll be amazed at how many people I’ve emailed in the fashion industry and maybe 2 or 3 responded to me but I push it off and keep going.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Always follow your dreams. I’ve had a passion for this since I was young. I have literally put blood, sweat and tears into my clothing and sometimes I’m scared to keep advancing but I know I can’t stop. I have to keep going. I don’t care how much money I make long as people love my clothes it’ll make me happy. I wanna be able to take care of my whole family and with God and my ambition I know I will.