We are bigSTORY

bigSTORY accounts for how stories are created, live in networks, and influence behaviors. Ours is the only process of its kind in the world. We put our theory of storytelling into practice with the goal of helping our clients create more meaningful connections with their employees, partners and customers.

What is your bigSTORY?

Subscribe to bigSTORY's email newsletter and take your organizational storytelling to the next level.

The bigSTORY Journal

View my Flipboard Magazine.

Our Flipboard journal is committed to identifying thought leadership focused on how stories are created, live in networks, and influence behavior.

Black Panther, Ikiré Jones, and the Afro-Futurist Story Field

By Mike Bonifer 1 month ago
Home  /  Creativity  /  Black Panther, Ikiré Jones, and the Afro-Futurist Story Field

Back in 2015, our friend, Rasul Sha’ir, who’s a fantastic trend-spotter and understands bigSTORY as well as anyone, told us to check out Ikiré Jones, a new clothing line out of Philadelphia.

 The reason Rasul knew we’d be interested in the Ikiré Jones line is that it was developed as a story. I got in touch with Walé Oyejide [pictured front right] the brand’s founder, and interviewed him for bigSTORY story’s magazine, ERGO. Here’s the intro to the interview:

Walé Oyejide is the founder and CEO of Ikiré Jones, a fashion brand rising out of Philly.  Once he was a disinterested employee of Banana Republic. Later, an indifferent dresser as a successful Philadelphia lawyer. His girlfriend challenged him to up his fashion game. He did. GQ had him on their list of Five Best Dressed Professionals in 2012.

Imagination now on overdrive, he dreamed up a man living in West Africa in the year 2081. Named him Ikiré Jones. Wrote a series of sci-fi stories about him.  Quit lawyering and designed what Ikiré Jones would be wearing in the stories he’d written. That Afro-Futuristic wardrobe for the character became the genesis of the fashion line.  

 We kept tabs on the Ikiré Jones brand in the two years since, and our sense was that it was doing fine. Getting steadily more assured with its look, and more pick-up in the trade.

And then, two weeks ago, I saw this photo of the director, Ryan Coogler, from the Black Panther premiere.

I thought, hmm, that scarf looks familiar. Sure enough, Coogler was wearing Ikiré Jones. And then yesterday, one of the Ikiré Jones models posted this in his Instagram feed.

That’s Black Panther’s costume designer, Ruth Carter, and two models wearing what Walé Oyejide dreamed a man in West Africa would be wearing in the year 2081. It turns out that Carter dressed the King of Wakanda in Ikiré Jones for the film’s final scene!

What has happened, in terms of the bigSTORY strategic model, is that beginning two years ago, Ikiré Jones placed smart bets in a story field defined by the theme ‘Afro-Futurism.’ Now Black Panther has come along and massively supercharged that field, and everything in it. As an authentic participant in the Afro-Futurist story field, Ikiré Jones can take a ride on the energy generated by the global popularity of Black Panther, and their acceptance by the Black Panther storytellers as being a legit character in its narrative.

The brand’s participation in the Afro-futurist theme and the story field it defines will no doubt continue to be a big driver of Ikiré Jones’ brand strategy, and Walé and his team can begin planning for another huge spike in demand during and after the 2019 Academy Awards.

Excerpts from the interview with Walé–

On the material stories are made of:

 Before I was a designer, I was a lawyer, before I was a lawyer, I was a musician. I was a vocalist and hip-hop producer. The story of hip-hop is kids in the inner city who didn’t have access to instruments, didn’t know what to do, so they would take their parents old records and sample the records and make something new. That was the way I started making music…and it’s essentially the same way I make clothing. I oftentimes will mine from artwork from different parts of the world, and use these collage styles to make something new, tell new stories from old mediums.

 On creative inspiration:

There are people like you and me who can visualize things. We can see things in our heads. And we are fortunate in that way. But a lot of people need to be led, in the sense that they need to see something before they can conceive that they can actually do it themselves.

By creating new work that features people of color in a classical sense, we then inspire a new generation of people of color to create work of their own. It perpetuates forward like that. Using what’s been made in the past and recycling it into the future. And it goes on and on.  And that’s the quiet thing in what I’m doing. 

On Afro-Futurism:

 Afro-Futurism is a term. I’m not sure how new it is, but it’s becoming increasingly popular.  It speaks to the idea of placing science fiction on the continent of Africa. Typically most science fiction films, some more so than others, will feature European people, with that slant. The idea is that this has been a neglected portion of the world where the future is concerned. People project stories about Africa into the future and it allows them to shape the world that they want to live in, rather than having these negative stereotypes that have been carried with us from the past for various reasons.

We now have a perception of what potential lies ahead, and with that potential, it affects what we’re doing now.

Because we have had such a troubling past, if we can pre-write what’s ahead of us, it will force us to align into that grid of what things are supposed to be like.

You can download the issue of ERGO featuring Ikiré Jones and the full interview with Walé here.

  Creativity, Identity, Story Analysis
this post was shared 0 times

 Mike Bonifer

  (56 articles)

Mike Bonifer is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer for bigSTORY, a company of strategists & practitioners who are first in the world to utilize quantum storytelling, an emerging organizational science that accounts for how stories are created, live in networks, and influence behaviors. Throughout his professional life, Bonifer has been in the forefront of emerging storytelling practices and technologies. As the publicist on Tron, the author of The Art of Tron, and the writer and producer of Computers are People, Too, he explained computer-generated imagery to the analog world. As a founding producer of The Disney Channel, he pioneered the Walt Disney Company’s entrance into cable television with the legendary documentary series, Disney Family Album. As the producer of the award-winning website for Toy Story, he introduced movie fans around the world to Pixar’s extraordinary storytelling. He co-founded Network LIVE, which lives on as Control Room, producer of some of the biggest online music events in the world, including 2007’s Live Earth concerts for the environment, for which he served as Chief Storyteller. In 2007, he wrote and published GameChangers – Improvisation for Business in the Networked World, and, with Dr. Virginia Kuhn of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, co-founded GameChangers, a learning company that applied improvisation to business communication. His work with GameChangers dramatically improved the performances in units of companies such as Skype, Gap Inc. The Walt Disney Company, United Airlines Media, Gawker Media, NetApp and GE. He has conducted university workshops in Public Health, Entrepreneurship, Engineering, Sociology and Cinema; collaborated with Alan Alda on a workshop for the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC; explained quantum storytelling to physicists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; coached Ron “The Gangster Gardener” Finley on his famous TED Talk on urban gardening; and returned to his old hometown in Indiana, to tell stories about the legendary smalltown Hoosier baskeball team, his childhood heroes,The Ireland Spuds. He was the featured storyteller at the 2014 San Miguel International Storytelling Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He and his son, Alex, perform a two-person improv act called BonBon, the only father-son comedy improv act in the world (that they know of). In 2015, he will tour Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua on behalf of the Notre Dame Executive Education program. With bigSTORY, Bonifer and Jeremi Karnell have created a home for one of the most remarkable advances in storytelling of our lifetimes. A way of seeing the world through the lens of the stories we create together. A theory that accounts for the brilliant possibilities that await us when your story and my story become our story.