The Brand of Brother
Chelsea firefighter, Tomiwa Adeosun, has much more in his locker than his uniform. An ex semi-professional footballer and massive Chelsea fan, he tells Richard James and Firestyle about his life, his role in the London Fire Brigade and his influences, that have helped him create, his very own brand of … Brother.
Tomiwa, What first attracted you to the Fire Service?
“I initially studied at Brunel University in Uxbridge, where I acquired my first degree in Sports Science and Business Studies. Having then worked at the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority, I found myself in positions with Cancer Research UK and the NHS. I also studied part time at St. Mary’s College obtaining a diploma in Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity.
I had played semi-professional, for Leyton FC and Carshalton FC and it was during amateur football days after that period I made a lot of friends who worked for the fire service. Combined with my work at the procurement department, the fire lads highlighted the pros of being a fire fighter and I found these tied in with my core values … fairness, integrity, and the physical aspects of the job. One of the fundamental attractions to me are the rewards you get helping people and the impact you can make on their lives”.
When did you join the Fire Service?
“I joined around four and a half years ago. I love the variety of the job and its daily duties. Being based at Chelsea, which is considered an affluent area, we may not have as many turn outs for fires, however, there are many more aspects of the job we have to deal with. The biggest incident I have attended though, was at the fictional home of Hercule Poirot, on Clerkenwell Fire Station ground a couple of years ago. I was one of the first firefighters on the scene and the whole place was up.”
Tomiwa has had an eye for fashion since a very young age, which eventually led him to not only a ‘Foundation degree in Cordwainers Footwear Design’ which he achieved at The London College of Fashion, but also a Master of Arts in ‘Fashion Menswear Footwear’. This he obtained in June this year, at the Royal College of Art.
When did you first become interested in fashion?
“When I was young, around 11, my friend and I used our spare time after school and at weekends, to design trainers. It was a passion from an early age which rekindled when I reassessed my life later, having the memories of being very happy doing it, still with me. To this day, I still have a general love of trainers and as I consider myself a creative person, I looked into the subject in greater detail.
When I was a child, Airmax 95s were massive, in fact the whole Airmax series and the likes of Reebok Pump, Fila and Adidas. Footwear now though has exploded, when I was young there was only a limited variety and the releases were few and far between. Now there is so much choice, with remakes, colour ups, new brands etc.”
How did you decide to progress your learning in the fashion field?
“I did a short course at the London College of Fashion in footwear design, which then enabled me to build up a portfolio, to approach the LCF for my degree. It then started to snowball from there. I then attended the Royal College of Art where I did a Master of Arts in ‘Fashion in Menswear Footwear’. Spending two years on the course, I found the college a prestigious place to study, which led to a massive development in my technical skills, both in design concepts and drawings. The college is one of the best design universities in the world and
I was constantly being challenged with new concepts and projects. It was very intensive and I had to switch certain shifts at work and leave, to accommodate the course. I certainly would not have been able to do both, if I didn’t love both.”
So where did the inspiration for your ‘Brother’ range develop?
“I have had massive inspiration from my fellow fire fighters at Chelsea. the service is now so mixed, I took even the smallest detail from my associates and used them in my design decisions. I must however give particular appreciation to a colleague in the LFB, whose influence helped greatly in the production decisions of my Chelsea boots. In the final year at college the big name brands came in and set industry projects and design outcomes. One in particular, Adidas, set a brief to redesign their existing ‘Forum’ trainer. Adidas chose 5 trainers that they made prototypes of at their factory in Germany. My final selection is separate to that though. It is based on the inspiration of work wear, photography of Irving Penn’s and my fellow firefighters. I even use fire fighter buckles and non-slip metal platings detail found on the trucks as a motif through my work.”
Tomiwa, what are your aspirations for the future?
“I would love to balance and develop my role as both a firefighter and designer as I have been doing. Ideally, I would like to produce a niche brand as my ideas are very particular and quirky. I like to work with a traditional base and then put my spin on them. Fundamentally, my focus is that I would like to make an aesthetically grounded product based on quality”.
Finally Tomiwa. How did you come up with the name ‘Brother’?
“My ‘Brother’ collection was inspired from my link to the fire brigade ethic… it is like a band of brothers – and sisters.”
Firestyle would like to thank Tomiwa for his help with this article and we wish him all the best for the future!
Photography: Egle Aravici and John McGrath.
Collaborators on project: Rozanna Walecki and Emily Goodaker