Tier’s Nigeria Ealey Explains the Secrets to His Artistic Fashion Designs
Creative director, designer and artist Nigeria Ealey has developed inspiring images. At his Los Angeles home, with floor-to-ceiling windows showing views of the town and mood boards that extend the length of the walls, he literally surrounded himself with it. It’s how he stays true to his nerves and how he connects the creative forces of life around him. The result was Ealey’s clothing company, Tier, which got seven numbers last year and was seen by people across the country.
Tier makes high quality street clothes for men, women, and children. That includes everything from monochromatic sets to outerwear to special baseball caps. But whatever the matter, Ealey and his co-founders, Esaie Jean Simon and Victor James, created each piece of Tier with two touchstones in mind: reliability and durability. And the label’s slogan, “Art Doesn’t Die,” reflects that. It’s a sensibility that Ealey said dates back to the trios ’days as founders of the student firm who attended Long Island University in Brooklyn in 2014.
“When we think about people like Tupac or Michael Jackson or Van Gogh, their work is so important while they’re here that even when they’re gone, that still means something,” Ealey said. “I think that’s the real test of someone — what impact can you leave on people in your field of work as a representation and memory of what you’re doing here?”
It’s an ideology that not only promotes the brand, but one that helped shape Ealey’s desire to express himself through fashion in the first place. As a child attending schools across the city, Ealey remembered that he had to wear uniforms. Until Friday when students were allowed to wear simple clothes she was able to remove the monotony and show a bit of personality. At the time, he remembers being influenced by the intensity of the anime. She finds inspiration in the color schemes and patterns and how the characters are boldly presented. Ealey remembers looking forward to Fridays and creating opportunities to shine just by her dress.
“There were huge influences from the fashion aspect of it like, Oh these colors together would be perfect,” she recalls. “I will look and see the way they dress and be like, Yo, far away some outfits.”
As creative director, Ealey focuses on conceptualization and planning. He asks a lot of questions and works to make sure there is purpose and intentionality in every product that he and his colleagues build their names on.
Consistent with their “Art Never Dies” motto, the trio also works to ensure that other artists have an unobstructed path for their work, too. Community engagement and breaking down barriers for aspiring artists is another value that Ealey holds close to his chest.
“We’re really trying to get the model and make it our own entity for future artists in music, in culinary, photography, in any field that encompasses art,” he said. “Our goal is to provide the necessary information and resources for the next group of future entrepreneurs and creators that we don’t have.”
For those purposes, Ealey’s time spent as an elementary art teacher still inspires him. She remembers teaching and hopes she will have the same level of guidance and support from her elders.
“You think about art, music and dance, and it’s always, If you don’t finish your math test, you can’t go into art, ”He said. “But these things are not secondary. It has been pointed out that only one of any number can do these fields, so it is already ingrained that they cannot be artists. But there are literally people who can only see pictures in their heads, and art is just as important as math and science. ”
During her time as a teacher, Ealey worked to make sure her students felt valid. Developing their talents and making sure they feel seen is his mission.
“I’ve always said that kids are the smartest people on Earth,” he said. “And they helped me find my inner child. I have students who are extremely talented and don’t even know they’re doing something good.
He remembers his stint as a teacher serving as the reset and push he needed to elevate the Tier to the next level. Now, the same energy and renewed enthusiasm has helped him push the brand forward. As an independent company, Ealey remains proud that Tier hires directly from its community and that it is a strong incubator for young artists looking their way.
“It’s a purposeful job,” he said. “Yes, we have fire clothes, and it’s quality and it’s good, but I want to be an example of showing people that you can literally do anything you put in your mind. ‘
Ealey projects that Tier will earn more than a million dollars next year, which is a goal he set a few years ago. He firmly believes that if you do the job, there is no direction to go if not upwards.
“I grew up on projects my whole life,” he recalls. “We have EBT cards, and there are a lot of people from my hometown who don’t even figure it out. But it’s real. I’ve really done something from the left.”
With a consistent directive to break down barriers and put art first in everyone while returning, Ealey doesn’t plan to slow down any hour.
“From my waking up to my falling asleep, I was able to focus on the Tier,” he explains. “If I put my mind to it, it gets. If I put my time into it, it gets. We show people that we can navigate any space, no matter what. ”
When asked about mood boards and what we can expect from the next Tier collection, Ealey smiles. The enthusiastic creative director has little to say, but he wants the world to know that it’s a homecoming.
And he would leave it.