Akademiks has been a leader in urban apparel for over a decade now. With the help of Elliott Betesh, co-founder of Dr. Jays clothing stores, the brand was launched by brothers Donwan and Emmett Harrell. Both men already had solid careers in the fashion industry, working with the likes of Donna Karan and Phat Farm. Akademiks quickly became a household name once rapper Fabolous dropped the brand’s name in a track on his Ghetto Fabolous album, and rocked a velour tracksuit on the inside cover. Since those early days, Akademiks has stayed afloat in the testy business of urban fashion, and continues to adapt as needed to serve the needs of the ever-changing market. Kiki got a chance to catch up with the creative design director of the brand, Matthew Sprague (picture above), to get a glimpse into Akademiks secrets for success, and find out what we can expect for spring/summer 2010: DrJays.com: How did you first get your start in the business? Matthew: I majored in fashion design at Parsons School of Design in NY and in Paris. First worked with the Perry Ellis America denim line and then for Marc Jacobs. I then went onto Europe where I started the high-end luxury sports line Escada Sport. After that, I was invited back to New York to design for Tommy Hilfiger. DrJays.com: Describe a day in the life of the creative design director of Akademiks. Matthew: A typical day at Akademiks is extremely busy, meeting first with design team to go over the days work, then typically have meetings with production team, sales, PR and management. DrJays.com: How is Akademiks experiencing ongoing success with all of the competing urban brands out there – namely celebrity driven lines? Matthew: Akademiks has always been a leader in this market, constantly evolving to meet customers need for newness. The product speaks for itself, so it doesn’t necessarily need celebrity names attached. Various celebrities wear it because of its universal appeal. Keri Hilson rocking Akademiks in Source magazineDrJays.com: It seems that Akademiks has recently taken more of an edgy “streetwear” route – would you agree? Have you noticed a shift in your customer base? Matthew: Yes, its definitely going in a more modern feel, since the typical “urban” landscape and market has dramatically changed. I want to broaden our customer base, but still also keeping our traditional guy that has grown with the brand. Akademiks in Nylon magazineDrJays.com: Where did you draw inspiration from for your spring/summer 2010 collection? Matthew: I draw inspiration from the classics, while adding twists and making it youthful. I think color is extremely important, as are fabrications and great hand feels. I also like to blend fabrics, taking a very mixed media approach – natural with hi tech. Its all about classics with a twist. Cop the latest in Akademiks men’s and women’s gear on DrJays.com!