Riveriswild is a clothing brand born from concepts largely taken from Lagos, Nigeria. It is a brand whose purpose and image come from the exploration of esoteric Blackness. Both co-founders have fascinating backstories that led them to the mutual creation of the brand.
The founders of Riveriswild are Akinwale (Wale) Akinbiyi and Thomas (Tom) Davis. Wale was born in Nigeria but raised across two continents. He spent his early life in Lagos, Nigeria, as well as moving around the United States from Maryland to Chicago to Los Angeles. Much of his early inspiration as a creative came from his mother, who makes and sells her own fabrics. He knew from a young age that he would like to do something very similar.
Tom Davis was born in Philadelphia, PA. Tom became more of a multidisciplinary creative that craved an outlet for self-imagery. This blended well with a desire to develop fine garments that embodied moments in time and historical placements of the esoteric.
View this post on Instagram
Riveriswild was formed out of a commitment to the exploration of esoteric Blackness. The founders say the brand itself started serendipitously. Wale had been working on another brand previously and had designed about five collections worth of samples. He ended up sharing many of these with Tom. Once Tom saw the designs, the two began to get excited about the possibility of starting a new brand together, but they didn’t gain traction right away.
In fact, neither of the co-founders talked in-depth about timelines for the new business. Instead, they began to form the brand and bring it to life on social media. As soon as a picture of a pair of shorts was posted, their media became frenzied. By the end of that same week, the pair were selling out of their first capsule collection, and the brand was truly born.
View this post on Instagram
The “Water is the Weapon and the Shield” collection was done in exclusive collaboration with JD Sports. Wale and Tom derived inspiration for the collection from some of the brand’s earliest concepts regarding the essential importance of water in Nigerian and other African cultures. Some inspiration came from one of Tom’s favorite Fela Kuti songs, “Water No Get Enemy.” In both the song and the collection, the duality of water is explored as both a life-giver and a life-taker.
This duality transformed under the lens of climate change, examining what is happening in our world and pointing to both sides of the coin, reminding us there are always two sides to every story. These themes, tied in with memories of cool Philadelphian summer showers and “pure water” sold in the streets of Lagos, supplied the final inspiration for the collection.
From the Photosynthesis sweatpants to the Sweet Mother tees, previous items in Riveriswild’s quintessential collections have found success under the brand’s banner. The “Water is the Weapon and the Shield” collection now finds its place alongside these already-established lines. Shop the exclusive collection today and learn more about other Black founders who are inspiring their communities through fearless self-expression and subversive thinking.