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Visionary Society: How a fashion label's Kanye West-inspired slogan motivated the youth

We talk to founder Diosdado Sima.

About four years ago, Diosdado Sima, a native of Mount Vernon, N.Y. and a graduate from Lincoln University, started a brand called Visionary Society, a name relatable to the young and innovative visionaries all throughout our generation today. Operating most of the business by himself along with a select few friends, he has been and continues to be extremely hands-on with the brand. Dio creates the designs himself, hand-stitches most of the Visionary Society tags onto the clothing, creates concepts for the photoshoots, and much more.

After non-stop teasing and promotion via social media, Dio finally decided to introduce the first collection to the public a little over a year and a half ago and it was a huge breakout. The young creative flipped Kanye West's song "Father Stretch My Hands" to "Father Stretch My Bands" and made it the signature saying for the brand. This idea created such a huge wave that Dio was forced to restock weeks later and, with that, he introduced multiple color ways. Visionary Society became a name that all young creatives started to recognize. Podcasters, radio personalities, writers, and designers amongst other people started to inquire about this unique brand and their signature "FSMB" saying.

Visionary Society's big break came in May 2016 when former Hot 97 radio personality Scottie Beam tweeted a photo of one of Visionary Society's shirts with a caption that read "The best shirt out right now!" Since then, Scottie has been seen wearing Visionary Society multiple times and has been one of the brand's most loyal supporters. Other popular figures such as Christian Combs and Power 105.1's Angela Yee have been spotted rocking signature FSMB pieces.

What was the inspiration behind flipping Kanye's song title?

I had a brand name and logo; all that was missing was a company slogan. In today's society that we live in, if it's one thing we can all relate to whether you're Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, is money. Not saying that it's a good thing, but it's the truth. Rich people want to get richer and less-fortunate want to get rich. Switching "hands" to "bands" seemed clever to me and I look at "Father Stretch My Bands" like a prayer to motivate others. Being a recent college graduate definitely played a factor, as well. We all relate to going to school for four years and taking out loans, graduating, and having to pay back debts while looking for a job. I was looking to make a shirt that was real simple, but something that you can wear for all occasions. I always believed that less is more.

What other inspirations have you used to bring Visionary Society to life?

I'm inspired by everything I see or people I come in contact with. I'm a huge fan of minimalism and I'm inspired by a lot of art in that style.

When did the idea for the brand come about?

The brand was created in my college dorm room at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Coming up with a name and logo was maybe the hardest thing, to keep it real. I brainstormed over 20 names and most of the names had the word 'society' in it. When you think of 'society,' you think about a certain group of people, club, or organization that have similar beliefs. When you think of 'visionary,' you think of imagination, creative and original ideas, and a lot of futuristic concepts. Visionaries are open-minded individuals due to their positive attitude. The brand is basically a group of people ("visionaries") who share common vision on society.

Scottie Beam
Scottie Beam

What's the process like creating new concepts for the brand such as design and photo shoots?

I'm always brainstorming for new ideas. I'm a huge fan of 80s and 90s fashion and I draw a lot of inspiration through that. We are a brand inspired by society; that's where we get most of our concepts from. For example, our "Fuck Society" shirt was kind of a response from the recent presidential elections. We try and create shirts that the customer can not only like, but can relate to. Concepts for photoshoots can range, but I like to keep it as simple as possible.

Who is Visionary Society for? What type of customer did you have in mind when you actually brought the brand to life?

Visionary Society is for anybody that relates to the brand. I wouldn't say that it has a age range but most of the customers that support me are usually around 21 to 30. But when I brought the brand to life I always had a vision for the urban culture artist, skaters, etc. as the type of customers to support the brand. I always had a vision of having a kids line and it's still in works for the near future. "FSMB" is for motivational purposes only. The goal is to motivate and give somebody the drive to go and get it and we inspire that thought throughout clothing.

Christian Combs
Christian Combs

Explain the feeling you had when you realized people were actually starting to catch on to your brand and the signature saying.

A great feeling. It's a reason why I say "Father Stretch My Bands - We Can All Relate" because I truly believe we all relate to that. It's kind of like I'm still dreaming and working on my craft. I grew up wearing a lot of streetwear brands so seeing people support something I created from scratch is a great feeling and I have a lot more stuff to show.

Explain how the Scottie Beam backing has helped and how did you manage to link up with Angela Yee and Christian Combs?

I was already a fan of what Scottie does on social media for the culture. I definitely feel like she helped the shirts go viral. She also wore our signature shirt to the Rolling Loud festival that definitely attracted more customers to check out what our brand is about. I got in contact with Angela Yee through a friend of mine. His name is Pete and he's a photographer. She happened to see the hoodies online and was interested in one. I ended up linking up with her at her birthday celebration in Brooklyn. The Christian Combs situation on the other hand was through his stylist, Groovey Lew, a real dope and popular NYC stylist. I chopped it up with him for a bit and gave him the hoodie and he happened to give to Christian.

Charlamagne, Jhene Aiko, Angela Yee, DJ Envy
Charlamagne, Jhene Aiko, Angela Yee, DJ Envy

In what ways do you differentiate yourself from other rising labels?

I just stay in my lane to be real. I see the competitors and respect them but it's like I'm in tunnel vision and mainly focused about Visionary Society. There are two things I'm huge on for my brand and one is customer service. Try to treat every customer like family. Our goal is to build a family oriented like business and loyal customers . I'm also huge on quality. I love hearing customers feedbacks on if they like how the clothes fit, the fabric, the longevity of it and etc. I personally think if you master those two things you do no wrong in this business.

What are your future plans for Visionary Society?

The goal is to expand the lifestyle. Our main goal is to do more events for the community through the brand. I see the Visionary Society brand eventually sponsoring a lot more from athletes, skateboard teams, and musicians. We're currently working on FSMB Athletics. That basically will be all active and ready to go gear. We're trying to promote health and wealth for our community as well. Home decor is also in our plans. We want to create little motivational items with quotes on them that people can put around their house such is ash trays , coffee mugs, wall decor and etc.

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