The most important vision of AKWAMAN is Humanity First. It is important for the founders that everybody has the same rights and to stand for the people that can’t stand for themselves. This is not only reflecting on the work conditions and the fairtrade payment for the artisans & entrepreneurs we work with.
Every garment somebody orders or buy, 5% of the proceed goes to a rightful foundation for people that living in a country where the people are suppressed by the government. Like the issue in English Cameroon, the French-speaking Government don’t give the English Cameroonians (known as Anglophones) freedom or the right to speak for their rights. At this moment there is a genocide going on in this area and French-speaking military walking around all day harming the citizens of English Cameroon. The world is silent about this issue and we want to speak for them.
With our funding, we help the refugees from English Cameroon that flee to Nigeria, so they can build their lives again.
Which are your main sources of inspiration?
Bringing cultures together and equality. I’m a designer that always had an interest in textiles and different cultures. We can learn a lot from all different cultures around us. How people dress and how clothing can communicate non-verbally is something beautiful. You really can express yourself with what you are wearing.
Last year I travelled to Ghana and I got inspired by the Ghanaian culture and the street style. So many nice colours and prints combined in their clothing, nothing is too crazy and still, there is a good balance.
I met my boyfriend during that time, who is an activist and he taught me about the good tailoring in Ghana. We combined our interest and from that moment AKWAMAN was born.
I got my eye on the Kente prints which we use for the designs. It is colourful and graphical patterns, with a lot of layers in it. Kente comes from the Akan tribe in South-Ghana and this print has a beautiful history. Every colour in the Kente prints has a different meaning, to tell a different story. So inspiring!
“My designs are an inspiration from what I see around me. Mostly what people wear on the streets and the kind of culture that is involved in it. I like to mix and to create. With this as a starting point, you can always design something new with a different vision.”
Taking into account that you are a creator that works with challenges every day, what’s in your opinion the biggest challenge of the fashion industry today?
To show more than only fashion. I think it is important that you also let your customers and fans see what is behind the brand. Make it more personal and to create transparency. I think we can aim that to show what you are standing for as a brand. A customer can identify themselves than with what he or she is wearing.
What is your personal view of fast fashion? Do you feel that the industry as a whole is falling a bit behind if comparing to sustainable fashion?
The problem with fast fashion is the overload of clothing. A lot of those clothing end up in Africa, like Ghana. That affects the local tailors because entrepreneurs sell the clothing for an extremely cheap price. A tailor can’t compete with the extremely cheap prices. That makes that people don’t go to their local tailor anymore for daily life clothing, only for special occasions or uniforms. The tailor ends up with less work.
The only way to change this is to let people know what fast fashion does. Not only the exploitation and the bad working conditions, but it also affects much more than that, the whole system is not in balance anymore.
“The only way to change this is to let people know what fast fashion does. Not only the exploitation and the bad working conditions, but it also affects much more than that, the whole system is not in balance anymore.”
Virtually all major clothing companies have a work in progress in the field of sustainability. What makes your brand stand out?
We work with a small stock and with pre-orders. We did a limited production for our first collection ‘Don’t Hide Yourself’ we now sell in Amsterdam.
If somebody orders a garment at our webshop, the process will start from that moment.
We will collect the fabrics, we go to our tailors and the tailor will work on the garment. With this, we prevent an overstock and we don’t have any waste.
What does the future hold for your brand? Any plans you could share with us?
We just started! Our biggest goal is to make the brand bigger and to have 2 seasonal collections. Winter & summer. We want to let people see an unknown world with our designs and our stories. We are standing for human rights and we want to create more awareness for people that are living in a suppressed country, like English Cameroon.