NEEDS&WANTS, I recently took on a role as program director of a fashion development initiative funded and supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). This consists of curating an online marketplace featuring 10-20 vendors from across Ontario, Canada. The program is now in its third year and was due for a much needed redevelopment. What was once under another name and management for the past two years has been redesigned, reshaped and rebranded to what I now call "ripe”.
Initially, I came up with ripe to signify our vendors being up-and-comers ready for the marketplace, but as this program continues to develop, I see ripe growing into something beyond just an e-commerce channel for developing brands. It has potential to be a shop, a publication, and multi media platform in our city.
ripe has this late 90s-2000s influence, that you'll notice I constantly celebrate—and ironically—was a key period in my own artistic development. I believe a lot of the inspiration for ripe applies to what is happening in culture right now, including the art direction, fashion, and music of this era. This is why I thought to produce this first official editorial—as an ode to that era. I've always revered moments in rap history as fine art. This project is just more proof. However, the entire project has only been made possible thanks to a brilliant cast/crew.
Above: Tika Simone as Missy Elliot & Makeup/Hair connoisseur Mila Victoria on set of ripe's first editorial · A project of this magnitude meant a very specific focus on details. We sourced costumes from as far as Hong Kong to ensure our references were accurate. The ripe wordmark, designed by August Foreman, references the movie "Belly”.
We called on Toronto’s creative community to come together and portray a handful of icons from this influential period. We're paying tribute to artists like Missy, Nas, Snoop, Lauryn Hill, Busta Rhymes, Outkast, Aaliyah, Lil Kim, Jay-Z & Biggie, to name a few. Those casted for the project (some even artists themselves,) not only embody the energy of these icons in likeness, but we consider the aesthetic and clarity employed even in their personal work to be both inspired and deft. I obviously have an extensive list of people to thank who assisted in bringing this all together, but I'll save that for when this thing is officially released; for now, you can find ripe on Instagram.