One of the best parts of Black History Month is the well-deserved exposure given to the Black community and the talent that extends into so many different fields of expertise and passion. There are many artists that work countless hours on their craft and create works of art that deserve to be amplified and shared with a larger audience.
One of those artists is designer Brisayon Watson. A young designer from Maryland, Watson creates functional pieces that take athleisure and streetwear to a new level of sophistication and sensation. This is a look at his story:
Get to Know Brisayon Watson and His Fashion Line, overdosedONdope
From a young age, Watson was always heavily interested in sports, fitness, and fashion, but it wasn’t until 2016 that he would get his hands on a sewing machine.
“I originally wanted a sewing machine to alter old pants and shirts I had that no longer fit me properly, but I soon after fell in love with the idea of creating things people hadn’t seen before,” Watson says.
It was during this first year that Watson began using his friends and family’s unwanted clothing for experimentation, to learn how the fabric was manipulated in order to create everyday garments.
“I spent two years doing alterations on clothing for others and adding pieces here and there for sale under the brand I created.”
So where did overdosedONdope (ODOD) come from?
“overdosedONdope came from me constantly saying the phrase “that’s dope” Watson explains. “It’s a dedication to myself to make things that are viewed as really cool in the eyes of myself and others. In 2018, ODOD, LLC. was created, solidifying the brand as a concrete foundation for everything people see today.”
I think that clothing has no gender, and if you feel comfortable wearing something…then you should wear it with pride.
As Watson began to develop his aesthetic and brand’s point of view, he had one goal in particular that he wove into all of his garments. The idea of gender-neutral clothing and fashion as an expression for all has heavily influenced the designer’s collections. Watson creates pieces not only for everyday wear but to push the boundaries of societal norms in order to eradicate the idea that specific styles of clothing can only be worn by certain genders.
“I think that clothing has no gender, and if you feel comfortable wearing something, even if it goes against the stereotypical gender norms set in place by a completely outdated society, then you should wear it with pride.”
Brisayon’s style is unique in its combination of textures, patterns, and material–combining fabrics like denim, corduroy, canvas, or knitwear to put a new spin on athleisure and everyday apparel. The first fashion hybrid Watson would make came in an “epiphany”-like manner as he was cleaning his room.
“I threw a trench coat and jean jacket onto my bed to hang up. I looked at them for a second and then thought to myself that I’d never seen a jean jacket trench coat before. I immediately went to Joann Fabrics and got all of the materials to create the piece.”
After around 60 hours of trial and error, Brisayon had completed his first signature ODOD garment, and that’s when he knew he wanted to keep designing for the rest of his life.
Experiencing the Fashion Industry as a Minority
When asked if his culture and Black identity have any influence on his art, Brisayon immediately connected his initial interest in design with the Black women he grew up with.
“My immersion in this culture from birth has helped shape my creations thus far. Growing up in a household with three black women that have a passion for clothing and shoes really shaped the way I view clothing. They have such an eye for aesthetics and the way garments should fit and flow on the body, it was only natural that I picked up on the same outlook.”
But making it big in the fashion industry is no easy feat. There have been many obstacles slowing Brisayon down as he continues to design and build ODOD.
“The biggest obstacle I’ve faced thus far has definitely been the inability to obtain the proper resources for mass production. I’ve also presented my designs to many factories and been turned away because my items have been viewed as “too intricate” to be replicated.”
Despite these challenges, Brisayon has no intention of giving up on his dream and looks forward to the day he breaks into the fashion industry and gets his “seat at the table.”
Handling a Case of “Fashion Plagiarism”
One of the most recent challenges ODOD and Brisayon was faced with was seeing one of his favorite fashion designers release a new collection this year, that seemed “eerily similar” to some pieces he had shared with the designer two years prior.
I was happy because it showed what I had already believed…that I could create clothing that can be respected on a top tier designer level.
When I first saw [the designer’s collection], I had just woken up from a nap, so I thought I was dreaming. Emotions went from shocked, to sad, to angry, to happy all in the span of a few hours.”
Despite the initial shock and disappointment, Watson decided to look at it as a compliment and sign he was headed in the right direction.
“I was happy because it showed what I had already believed…that I could create clothing that can be respected on a top tier designer level.”
It was important for Watson to post the two collections side by side on his Instagram not to accuse anyone of theft, but just to show the similarities and let his audience draw their own conclusions.
Unfortunately, not all cases of “fashion plagiarism” are like Watson’s, and he recognizes that many minorities have their designs stolen all the time.
“The act of stealing or “recycling” creations from black designers is clearly unjust,” he says. “Although someone may come around and push the needle forward in a different way, it’s very hard to pull from thin air. Ideas can be found within the subconscious, spawning from something someone’s seen before. The worst part is not admitting fault to the glaring similarities when the information is presented.”
The Hair Journey
Hair care has also been a journey for Watson, starting long before he delved into fashion. For over 10 years cornrows and braids were his styles of choice.
“Sundays in my household were bonding time for my mother and I because we’d spend hours that day doing my hair, keeping me fly for schooldays.”
Once he went off to college, having his Sunday hair ritual was no longer an option as he was too far from home, so a new phase began.
“Since 2014, I’ve been cutting my own hair, which allows me to have the maximum freedom to express myself in any way I see fit. I love the ability to essentially transform the way I want to look overnight, it keeps me on my toes.”
I’m pretty old school and live by the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
When it comes to hair products, Brisayon remains true to the brands he’s found work for him.
“I for sure couldn’t live without SheaMoisture. Since I have a decent amount of hair on the top of my head, these products keep my hair curly throughout the day and prevent my hair from frizzing out of control during adverse weather conditions.”
That goes for his beard routine, too.
“I use a classic pomade on my beard to give it a nice texture and shine. I’m pretty old school and live by the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”