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Angolan Designer Coréon Dú Weaves Heritage Into Fashion

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Creativity comes naturally to Coréon Dú, an Angolan-born artist who has gained worldwide attention as an accomplished musician, producer, and fashion designer. His commitment to challenging social and political conventions to produce work that is true to his vision has resonated with fans from various backgrounds, and his clothing line, WeDú by Coréon Dú, combines inspiration from his African heritage with forward-thinking silhouettes and materials. Demand Africa caught up with Coréon Dú to discuss the ethos behind his non-binary fashion line and to learn more about how he incorporates his love of Africa into everything he does.

DEMAND AFRICA: How would you describe your brand’s vision? 

Coréon Dú: WeDú by Coréon Dú is centered around optimism. My intention is always to create something comfortable, easy to wear, with a unique point of view that allows for people to smile and infuse their sense of humor and whimsy into how they chose to wear it.

I think optimism and a good sense of humor have characterized most African communities I’ve met regardless of how diverse our cultures are across the continent and diaspora.

DEMAND AFRICA: What was the biggest lesson you learned about yourself while launching your business?

Coréon Dú: I’m still learning, but I did discover how easily I can adapt and reinvent myself. It’s a very important skill for all independent designers to learn in an age where big names constantly perform creative appropriation.

DEMAND AFRICA: What is influencing how you approach your designs the most right now? 

Coréon Dú: WeDú’s focus on optimism is a very intimate pursuit. I’m really digging deep into my own cultural roots to provide something that is authentic. That is why I often root my collections around Angolan street style as well as Central African and Iberian influences, and other cultural influences that are part of my livelihood.

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DEMAND AFRICA: How does culture influence your creative process?

Coréon Dú: I’m deeply influenced by both the culture that I acquired from my heritage, but also the cultures I acquire due to affinity. I grew up in a household that was immersed in African and Portuguese traditions, but due to the scarcity of Portuguese-language media in the US in the 1990s, I grew up consuming lots of Latin American pop culture due to linguistic proximity between Portuguese and Spanish. Not to mention other pieces of international culture, which I’ve discovered are very particular to metropolitan African cities. Interestingly enough, I noticed that many people from other African countries grew up with similar tastes in international film and TV trends in their home country that I also had in Angol,  both in my childhood and also when I returned after university.

A deep appreciation for my heritage and personal culture is what drives me into storytelling, and through creative media, I chose to focus on fashion, the audiovisual arts, and music.

DEMAND AFRICA: Why do you think so many people are looking to Africa for design inspiration? 

Coréon Dú: It’s quite fascinating because, from Pablo Picasso to Yves Saint Laurent, “African inspiration” is not a new phenomenon. What I’m really enjoying is that in the past decade, people around the world want to finally see and hear African creativity in the first person. Technology has allowed people to go away from inspiration and go directly to African creatives and makers. We have been and still are a source of inspiration for a long time, however, our industries have not been really benefiting from it until social media started connecting the world directly to African creatives.

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DEMAND AFRICA: Which African cities do you think are the most fashionable?  

Coréon Dú: I grew up in the U.S. in a blended family that included my mother’s Angolan family and my step-father’s Ivorian family. I’m probably very partial to contemporary Angolan urban culture and Ivorian traditional style. However, growing up in the African diaspora really gave me an opportunity to connect from people from all over the continent, from North to South and East to West. My work is also allowing me to connect more to other Africans. So, I can’t really pick a favorite because every place has such a magnetic visual heritage.

DEMAND AFRICA: What do you want young African designers to know about entering the fashion industry today? 

The fashion industry is undergoing a huge transformation due to the advent of fast fashion. It’s not a particularly easy time for fashion professionals, but it is a major opportunity to learn about what kind of designer or label owner you want to be. It’s a daily learning experience, but nothing beats authenticity and a clear point of view!

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