NEW VOID ORDER - a London-based streetwear brand - welcomes us to the void to
celebrate transformation and explore the unknown.
Roger Bitihinda - the founder of NEW VOID ORDER - is the son of immigrant parents
who fled the civil war in Rwanda in the 90s. He grew up in inner-city London and initially
set out to be a medic; but after three years of studying medicine, he decided to quit and
pursue his passion for design instead. His brand, which is ethically conscious and
sustainable, explores the themes of renewal, transformation and psychoanalysis.
Fittingly enough, it was through his own transformation and journey into the unknown
that he made his dream a reality and created NEW VOID ORDER.
MSM caught up with Roger to get all the details on the story behind the brand and what we can expect next.
How did you get started in fashion and what you were doing before?
Growing up I was always creative and loved design. Interestingly enough, medicine was
suggested to me by my parents and a few others. Because I also enjoyed science, I
agreed to go to the University of East Anglia to study medicine. While I enjoyed learning
medicine, over the course of 2-3 years I realized that it wasn’t the right career for me
and wasn’t what I wanted to do long term. So, I took a year off to think about things and
also kick-start a few creative ventures, including NEW VOID ORDER. I didn’t go back to
medical school, and my parents did not approve. In fact, I actually got kicked out of the
house because of it and moved in with my sister and nephew in Hackney Wick for 6
months while I figured out a plan. No part of me regrets those choices I made though.
And I had this moment the other day where I was reminded that I absolutely love being
creative and love learning about fashion, art and design. Although it was really hard to
make the switch in the beginning, and I’m still establishing myself, I get the most joy in
life when I am creating.
What does NEW VOID ORDER mean and how did you coin the name?
I was actually going to call the brand something completely different, but I went back to
the drawing board with just the letters N, V and O. I thought about the void I was in with
the transformation I was going through in my year off, both emotionally and with completely switching careers, and with all the fear of the unknown. That led to a bit more thought about what I wanted the brand to be about and the name just came to me.
Your brand is ethical and sustainable streetwear and designed in London. Why
London and why the focus on sustainability?
Streetwear is all about being true to where you come from. It’s an expression of
community of where you grow up, whether it’s NYC, Seoul, or inner-city London.
Growing up in London for the majority of my life has led me to appreciate the people I’ve
met, as well as the experiences and influences that I’ve grown up with. I think that’s
what streetwear is about and that’s what I try to channel into NEW VOID ORDER.
In all that I do, I want to have a positive impact in the world. People and the planet are
both incredibly important. Starting a brand in industry like fashion where there’s the
potential to do so much damage, I didn’t want to be part of that damage. I wanted to do
things differently – so the majority of our clothing is made from sustainable materials,
mainly organic Fairtrade cotton to help reduce the negative environmental impact of the
clothing and we pay the workers producing the raw garments a fair living wage.
NEW VOID ORDER has a different aesthetic that discusses psychological and
philosophical ideas such as Carl Jung’s concept of - ‘The Shadow’ (the dark side
of one’s personality) - transformation, alchemy and renewal. How did you come
up with this concept?
I’ve always been interested in spirituality, esotericism and, more recently, philosophy.
They all share ideas on transformation, rebirth and exploring the unknown. I feel like a
lot of us have spent some time in a “void” … whether it’s trying to fill it, negate negative
life experiences, or whether it is just a nagging feeling you get from time to time. I am
really interested in that “void” – and the parts of ourselves as humans that we would
typically consider bad or negative. In a way, I believe those elements of ourselves can
be our greatest teachers and are actually gifts. People try to ignore the more negative
aspects of their lives and write them off as bad, but I really believe those are the parts
that teach us and make us turn bad situations around. Emotional alchemy, if you will,
that’s something I try to practice in my life.
What is the feeling you hope to instil in people when they wear the brand?
I hope to instil a feeling of confidence and to connect with people who can relate –
people that are on their own transformational journeys, no matter what stage they’re in
and in a way let them know that they can make it. That feeling of going against the grain
and doing what you want in life and making things happen and becoming the person
you want to be. That’s what I want people to feel when they wear NEW VOID ORDER.
What is your favourite piece so far and why that is your favourite?
It’s got to be the 100% wool houndstooth coat, which is dropping December 11th ! It’s
quite an expensive, loud statement piece and I wanted to make a statement on society
with it. Historically, houndstooth has been a symbol of wealth among the upper classes.
I added the pastel pink pocket detailing and bold logos to create something
unconventional that pops out at you as a way to say ‘FUCK YOU’ to the systems and
industries that have marginalized young inner-city youth and black creativity for so long.
It’s bold, it’s in your face, it’s different, and I think it looks good. (At least most people tell
Can you tell us what you are currently working on?
I’m currently working on a collaboration with an artist with a really unique style that I met
at university. For this collaboration, we’re going to be creating a t-shirt and maybe a
hoodie with an amalgamation of faces… stay tuned. I’ve also been fortunate enough to be selected as 1 of 12 to take part in the FashMash Young Pioneers mentoring programme. I’ve been paired with a mentor who runs a successful fashion company, and our sessions are going great so far. Finally, I’m working in collaboration with an artist called Drew Storm who goes by his street art name Prickassso. We’re setting up a website to sell 20th century antiques, street art and fashion. We’ll be putting rare, funky, interesting things up, everything from authentic Paul Klee art to STIK posters. You can follow this project @stormartifacts.
For more on NEW VOID ORDER, be sure to follow @newvoidorder and founder,
Roger Bitihinda. Look out for the new houndstooth wool coat dropping December 11th!
Interview by: Sandy Aziz (Contributing Editor)
Sara Irvine @sara_shots_ (studio)
Noah Da Silva @neondevilofficial (other photos)
Tino G @tino_gee
Angie Cullen – @angieecullen
Jasmine – @its.jas_