Tia Adeola on Creating a Fashion Brand That Breaks the Mold

The 25-year-old has been designing since she was 18. Now, she’s ready for the next step.


Getty Images

Tia Adeola may only be 25 years old, but she's ready to move on to the next stage of her career as a fashion designer. Adeola got her start when she was just a teenager in college. At that time, her former brand, Slashed by Tia (it's now just Tia Adeola), was seen on celebrities like Gigi Hadid, and everyone was talking about her. 

As she's grown up, she's decided to make construction and quality her top priority. Her recent collection, shown at New York Fashion Week, contained elements of what she has become known for — ruffles and see-through organza — but perhaps a slightly more refined take. 

"One of the biggest things for me has been just growing as a designer, as a brand, and just learning more, especially in design," she tells InStyle. "I really want people to see that sort of growth and structure through the apparel, which is a reflection of my life." 

"I just think the older generation needs to get with the times a bit, and I'm looking forward to coming home and shaking things up." 

This season was also about pushing her own boundaries, inspired by one of her favorite designers, the late Thierry Mugler. "He was one of the people I really loved and admired," she tells us. "I can relate to him in several ways as an artist and as a creative because he was really into dance and drama, and you felt that in his shows." Inspired by this, Adeola decided to have a ballerina open her show, dancing to Femi Kuti, a musician from her hometown of Lagos, Nigeria. The lighting was also part of Adeola's Avant-garde vision. "[The show] had a single spotlight following each model, creating a super dramatic effect. I'm really hands-on; every single detail and every aspect of that show is thoughtful and coming directly from me," she adds. 

One of the benefits of getting started super young is that Adeola has already developed key relationships in fashion, including one with Nike. The brand even sponsored her show while she was still in college and now provides footwear for her presentations. As a result of that collaboration, Adeola was also able to recreate an outfit worn by Serena Williams during the U.S. Open in 2012. In Adeola's version, a headpiece full of beads is the stand-out piece. She found that the Williams sisters had points deducted for their beads once, so including this homage was significant.

Next, she's taking her collection home to Nigeria, where she will show her clothing at Lagos Fashion Week. "I'm so nervous," she admits. That's because this show is going to be a bit different. "It's me trying to break the mold for my peers and generations to come after me. But at the same time, be respectful to my family and my parents by not having all my models be nude," she says. "It has an incredible fashion scene, an incredible music scene, talented kids. I just think the older generation needs to get with the times a bit, and I'm looking forward to coming home and shaking things up a bit." 

Adeola has spent much of her career in the fashion spotlight, with everyone getting a front row seat to her development in real time. As she comes into her own, it seems like embracing and trusting herself is her vision for the future of fashion.

More from

Fashion Visionaries

Related Articles