The Quiet Rise Of Adewale

Authored by

Laurène Southe

Growing up in the North side of Chicago, a city shared with legends such as Ye (Formerly known as Kanye West) and the late Virgil Abloh, Adewale Quadri, known by many as Dark Phil Knight, slowly rose to fame after a number of his handmade custom kicks was seen on star athletes like Lebron James, Chris Paul and more. At first look, the self-titled brand Adewale may seem like just another fashion trend that you’d catch on Tik Tok or instagram reels; however, there lies more into the creation of carefully crafted shoes and accessories than meets the eye.

Photo by Adewale

Although Dark Phil Knight established the apparel line during the peak of covid in 2020 out of boredom, his passion for kicks started long before as an eager infant whilst living in the urban city of Chicago. Coming across his first pair of basketball kicks at the age of twelve, Adewale (aka Dark Phil Knight) instantly fell in love and developed a deep admiration for the culture of American sneakers. On numerous occasions, Dark Phil Knight also made mention of the importance of the book ‘Shoe Dog’ as part of the process towards the brand’s fondness of Nike. At this point, you may think that the combination of his love for footwear and Chicago’s rich history in the sneaker culture due to Michael Jordan, must be what sparked in him the desire to dive into the fashion world; however, it is Adewale’s pride in his Nigerian roots that has really brought his current rise and plays a significant role into the core of the brand.

Photo by Adewale

The origin of the name Adewale, which means ‘The crown has returned’ in the Yoruba language, ties in with his devotion to paying tribute to the Yoruba culture and their rich background in craftsmanship. Rather than utilising hard materials like leather and plastic popularised in the footwear industry, Dark Phil Knight makes use of softer materials such as wool - a fabric often used to sew garments for loved ones and shared during festive seasons between family members. 

Photo by Adewale

Like a variety of African tribes who endeavour in traditional practices, it is a common gesture to pass down the knowledge to offsprings. To this day, many ancient customs and attire have prevailed for generations across the African continent. Not only does Adewale prioritise his Nigerian heritage through shared goods, but also, makes sure to pay homage to its culture from the ethical production of the garments, to the textile and its cosy texture.

It is too early to suggest the outcome and impact of Adewale’s legacy. Throughout the two years of its existence, it has made rounds towards every celebrity imaginable and has yet to transition into the hands of fashion enthusiasts. It is only when one truly takes a look at the purpose behind each design, does one really comprehend and appreciate Adewale to its entirety. Dark Phil Knight’s vision of the brand is far more than your average social media post.

Ever since Adewale formulated its foundation with hand-sewed Air Force 1s, and as of late, remarkable loafers named by him as ‘Tuxedo’, what is yet to be unveiled is the direction in which the brand will choose to extend its wings and take over the fashion space by introducing a sustainable effort in designing and the value in storytelling.