Even if this is a fashion interview, it proves impossible to resist discussing Elba’s main line of work. I mention that I am currently rewatching The Wire’s first season, released in 2002, with a 16-year-old first-time viewer who is very curious about the clothes. Elba says: “I remember at the time there had been this upsurge in Black-owned fashion brands — Akademics, Sean John, Fubu, to name just a few — there were all the sweatshirts, and all this velour, and that is the era that the clothing came from.”
One of Elba’s proudest achievements so far with DSYF came in January this year, when Arsenal Football Club walked out for an FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest wearing an all-white strip. This was part of a “No More Red” initiative created by DSYF in collaboration with Arsenal and its current kit partner, Adidas, which aims to tackle the root causes of youth violence. He says: “That was a great moment, a very smart activation between three powerful brands that served as an innovative way to touch some hearts and get people thinking. Because football, more than any other sport in the UK, touches the most people.”
For now though: “Don’t Stab Your Future is what we’re focusing on taking forward. Aura Man is part of that, and DSYF is essentially the brand name.” Elba’s partner in the venture is the stylist Cheryl Konteh: the two work with a design team. The Soh collaboration, says Elba, will be one of DSYF’s last before it enters a new stage of production: cut-and-sew. Future collections will be a crossover of leisurewear and sportswear, says Elba, and fall into the category “masstige-luxe”. “I don’t want it to be overly expensive, and to be for people who want to wear nicely designed, quality clothes and contribute to and support a wider cause.” Elba adds that the first DSYF cut-and-sew collection will include both womenswear and menswear.
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