Khalil Lewis | Buffalo, New York
I am black and INFLUENCIAL.
Tell us who you are and what you do!
I am a 21 year old college student, graphic designer, founder, creative director, and designer for ÅPEX CLOTHING. ÅPEX is a clothing brand based in Buffalo, NY that I created when I was a freshman in college. The initial idea came from my first brand I made in high school called Scumbags and Scholars. I changed the name because I wanted people to know we were going to be more than just a t-shirt brand on Instagram. I want to break into the fashion industry with a whole team like no one has before and be at the top of it all like apex predators.
What is the inspiration for your work?
“…they are young African American males breaking barriers with their work. That’s something I think is important.”
There is so much I get inspired by. When it comes to my branding and design work I take inspiration from a few things. First is Swiss design, it is one of the cleanest minimal design techniques I have ever seen. All of it that I see usually looks amazing from the typeface to the placement. Nowadays, you don’t see good design in many places. So, to see something like that really shifted my creative thinking process. Second, are the the eras ranging from the 60s-90s. The graphic design from back then was so interesting aesthetically. I take even more influence from that when I do my own stuff. There’s always a touch of nostalgia in my work. Lastly, I get inspired by other artists such as Jacob Rochester and Paper Frank. Those two are the most influential to my creativity than any other artists. They both shifted my mindset as far as creating. They are young African American males breaking barriers with their work. That’s something I think is important.
What would you say to prevent an upcoming artist from making the same mistakes you have made?
“I just wanted to get my product out as soon as possible. But that was not the way to go.”
I have made so many mistakes dating to last week. However, I have learned a tremendous amount from all of them. The most important being patience. I just wanted to get my product out as soon as possible, but that was not the way to go. If people believe and support what you do they will wait around and those who didn’t will come back, especially when they see that you are creating quality work!
What obstacles have you faced as a Black Artist/Business Owner?
“I just want to be able to be on that same platform as brands like Vetements, Human Made, A.P.C, and Adidas but with an African American at the forefront of it all.”
In the fashion industry you don’t see many Black people starting their own stuff and it being successful on a large scale, especially in the fashion world. Nothing people wear now is owned by African Americans and the brands that did exist like Roca Wear had no longevity. Even Kanye West had to build what he is doing now with fashion under other people before he could become more independent. I understand taking opportunities and I don’t knock him for it. I just want to be able to be on that same platform as brands like Vetements, Human Made, A.P.C, and Adidas but with an African American at the forefront of it all.
Stay connected with Khalil:
Instagram: khalil_apex | apexclothing716