Listen to this article here
Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Times‘ daily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.
Hailing from Fort Washington, Maryland, Alfred Wood founded “The Cultured Savage” (TCS) shortly after attending a hometown performance on November 31, 2013.
It was a night where Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and the hometown favorite Wale would light up the stage and leave an indelible impression on Wood.
According to Wood, after witnessing their display of collective musical genius and diversity of storytelling, coupled with his recent exodus from Historically Black University, Winston Salem State University, he exited The Verizon Center with a brand new motivation to create a lasting legacy of his own.
Within months, he would launch The Cultured Savage.
Almost a decade later, The Cultured Savage has been featured on Good Morning America, USA Today, Essence, and Buzzfeed as the go-to source for HBCU-inspired clothing.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Wood about the future of Black clothing on and off HBCU campuses.
As the sole creative designer and distributor of TCS, Wood proudly boasts his apparel is “100% made for the culture by the culture.”
Once a Ram, always a Ram, Wood credits his hardheadedness to where he is today. Asked his advice for those hesitant to start their own business, Wood says, “The first step is just do it. People worry too much about being perfect, youre not going to be perfect — use your wings and fly.”
An HBCU OG himself, Wood proudly claims that he’s sold his merchandise to every institution, whether online or in-person during epic Homecoming weekends.
Though far removed from WSSU’s Thompson Center breezeway, Wood says social media has kept him connected to HBCU culture near and far.
“Black creatives control the future.”Alfred Wood
Though HBCUs are his passion, Wood says Black culture is the direct influence behind his work and regularly creates concepts which reflect everything from melanin to Mumba sauce.
“With fashion, I try not to forecast culture trends so I’d be lying if I said I know what’s coming next. But what I do know for sure, whatever does come, Black people will be at the forefront of it,” says Wood.
A creative at heart, Wood says his vision for the future includes doesn’t include any seats at the table, but tables themselves. Much like Nipsey Hussle, Woods adamantly believes Black creatives can find liberation through entrepreneurship.
“We’re the most creative people on the earth.” He continued, “Access may have been denied before, but it’s on us to make up for lost time and fill in generational wealth gaps.”
Woods says his clothing “is made with more than cotton, but love.”
One glance at his social media feed, and it’s easy to see love and smiling faces in the thousands upon thousands of satiated customers, once starved for quality, creativity, and affordability.
Though he’s created enough custom apparel to style the pickiest shopper, Wood says his No. 1 seller remains the trademarked “Blacker The College Sweeter The Knowledge” collection, starting at $30.
At The Cultured Savage, it’s always L.U.V.
Though he, like many vendors, was sidelined during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wood says his company’s survival will be used to help others not only survive, but thrive.
Nearly 10 years at it, Wood has more than advice for newcomers, but will soon offer a pathway for Black creatives.
According to the website, this fall TCS is going a step further in their “HBCU L.U.V. (Lifting up Visionaries)” program, which helps to fund other HBCU entrepreneurs.
Through merchandise sales, and small business grants, the company will be giving small grants to HBCU entrepreneurs, supplying technology to HBCU creatives to help grow their visions, and developing a network of business owners for mentorship and resources.
This summer TCS will be set up at several Black festivals & events promoting the rollout of the program with exclusive designs.
TCS will open applications to creative HBCU students and alumni looking for start-up funding for their business idea(s).
The grant program will be launched during HBCU Homecoming season (late Sept – mid Nov).
By the new year of 2024 they plan to introduce the inaugural “HBCU LUV” class, showcasing the unlimited influence of Historically Black College and University creators.
Wood encourages anyone interested to follow the company’s Instagram for the latest updates.
You can also visit the website for regular updates, purchases, new releases, discounts, and surprise giveaway for apparel crafted for every occasion, from the classroom to the cook out.