23-year-old Christopher Kutoya from Hackney, East London is the founder and creative director of the 1Figures clothing line. The recent Criminology and Youth Studies graduate has managed to successfully combine his studies with running a profitable business – no easy feat. We sat down with him after the conclusion of their 3rd Annual pop up sale, which launched their new AW18 collection
Tell us the history of 1F? – What made you start the brand, what does it mean? Where does it originate from?
Making clothes and fashion has been something I’ve been extremely passionate about, my earliest experiences stemmed from when I used to design tops school and sell them amongst my peers. As I got older, I took a short break to focus on my other projects that I had going on, but returned back to clothing in 2014. 1Figures was born, from my nickname Figures, given to me by my older cousin.
The meaning behind the brand has changed several times over the years. Originally it meant that no matter how big or small you’re or social position or money you may have, everyone has a starting point of 1.
1Figures originates from Hackney and mixes innovative design and grows with its audience accordingly, with a long-term vision of high-end street wear.
Congratulations on your third annual pop up – how has the brand evolved since inception and what do you think makes people buy into your brand?
Thank you so much! Yes our third pop up we thank God first and foremost, it’s been such a challenge maintaining the high standards I have set for the brand since inception. I feel like the third pop up store has cemented 1Figures into Hackney history as every year, I have attempted to improve the consumer experience, whether that is via the actual shopping experience or the visual make up of the pop up.
People buy into 1Figures because it’s a genuine brand, which consumers can see further potential in and are willingly supportive of us. In this day and age it’s very hard to sell anything, because people are selling everything. What differentiates 1Figures from other brands is the unique ways of marketing and promotion and our heavy ties with influential figures in both sports and music, creating further interest and appealing to a wider audience.
What does the future hold for you and the brand?
With regards to expansion, 1Figures will definitely be taking it one step at a time, building solid foundations that can last for generations to come. There’s no rush on development as we are currently on a very steep learning curve but what is evident is that with a steady plan and structure you can reach the top, whatever you may define that to be. I do one day see 1Figures opening stores worldwide in major fashion cities.
Has starting a business influenced your views on savings and investment? If so how?
Saving is key. I can’t stress it enough without savings there would be no 1Figures. I remember saving a lot of my student finance and working part time at Waitrose, understanding the importance of money management and how to make better use of your money. Learning to be financially intelligent was a huge turning point and I can’t lie it’s not for the feint hearted it takes huge sacrifice and determination but if you know your end goal it’s all a part of the process.
If there were anything you could do differently / a piece of advice you could give to an 18 year old you, what would it be?
The one thing I would do differently if I could go back in time is that I’d not be the face of the brand or have any direct affiliation with it. It may sound strange but the reason why I say this is because sometimes people feel it’s fine to discuss brand issues on a night out! Honestly I don’t mind sometimes but I also value my social time a lot and sometimes I just want to dance to Wizkid in peace!
What was your first capital moment? (Could be anything from saving pocket money to buy a game to investing in stocks)
My first capital moment was saving my £10 a week on a Monday, playing money up with all the other kids on my estate. On the Thursday I’ll have about £35-40 that I could then invest on making t-shirts that cost about £5 to make each. I would make about 7, keep £5 for a rainy day and sell the tops for £12 which left me with about £7 profit off each t-shirt. So if you ever saw me with nice pair of Levi jeans or Vans trainers back in the day it was definitely because of that!