Yo what’s going on, I’m Duke Ihenacho, founder of Law 17…welcome. I’m a former pro athlete turned fashion designer and I want to take you deeper into my personal story so you can understand our brand better. Hopefully you have 5 or 6 minutes to spare.
I started Law 17 in 2017 immediately following my last season playing in the NFL. After 2 seasons with the Denver Broncos and 3 seasons with the Washington Redskins, I signed with the New York Giants in 2017, which caused me to move to the east coast. Everyone was so fashion forward. It seemed like everyone was hard working. The energy of the city inspired me. And I feel like it gave me the spark I needed to start Law 17.
I remember when I started Law 17 people would ask me why I started a clothing line and what my inspiration was. I would always try to give these well thought out, deep, articulate answers, because I saw all the top designers doing it...and before I started, everyone would tell me I’d have to have this super intriguing story to be successful.
But honestly I never thought fashion was that deep. And I felt like all the people in the industry were trying to make it more complicated than it was. Maybe it was because they didn’t want to share the space with people like me who didn’t have the traditional fashion design background.
I started Law 17 because I love style and clothes, and I felt I had a good sense of fashion that most people could appreciate. And it just made sense to explore what I was already passionate about. Plus I was tired of shopping and spending money on everyone else’s clothes, and I figured why not spend the money to make my own clothing, and ultimately offer it to people who like my style.
Initially I thought there’s no way people are going to take me seriously as a football player turned fashion designer. There’s this marginalizing myth that athletes can’t really transition well into other fields outside of sports. And I let that narrative discourage me for some time because I didn’t know anything about fashion design. I had no knowledge of fabrics, pattern making, or sampling, or where to go to even create clothes. So I would go back and forth with myself if the thoughts I were having were real and sustainable, or just a moment that would pass. But I found myself not being able to sleep at night. I’ve heard that if you can't stop thinking about it, then that's a sign you should do it. So I just went for it.
Although I didn’t know anything about fashion, I just knew I could trust my work ethic, my ability to learn, my style, and my patience. I also didn’t want to look back and have to deal with the regret of not doing it. Whatever I didn’t know, I could learn over time. I developed resiliency and work ethic from playing sports my whole life so I also had faith that I could always do what was unlikely.
Also…it really came down to me wanting to have something of my own. Something that I built from the ground up and could share with other people. Something that allowed me to express my personality and creativity freely. I honestly believe I could’ve done anything...but fashion just spoke to me the most.
I’ve been into clothes for as long as I can remember. When I was young, my mom would always ask me what she should wear when she would go out. She trusted my opinion, and that made me feel like my perspective on fashion was important early on. I would always cut up my shirts or alter my clothes to the exact look and feel that I wanted. Or write on my shoes because I wanted them to be a bit different. I just enjoyed making things my own. So now everything I make is really a projection of my everyday mood. Minimal, simple, but timeless and sophisticated.
The foundation of my designs is simplicity. I think about what styles can become timeless and classic..and actually wearable in the next 5, 10, or 15 years, and then I go from there. So my inspiration comes from the idea of minimalism, where there’s a “less is more” approach. I think what that does is create versatility for people because they’re able to get multiple looks from one item.
And I just wanted to make clothes for people who want to stand out and make statements without being loud about it. I truly believe I’m able to do that by leading with simple designs, then adding small unique details that can make each piece different.
I’ve also found myself leaning into monochromatic color schemes the most. I love complementary pieces and the look of uniformity because I feel like it highlights sophisticated fashion senses - which is exactly the vision I have for Law 17.
Fashion is an expression. It's not necessarily a direct representation of who you are, but it does give people an idea of what and who you identify with. So my goal was to make sure that when people see Law 17, they associate our brand with respect, class, and sophistication.
Thank you for being here. I hope you stick around.