African influences can been seen in nearly every facet of the fashion world and designer Akou proved just that on the runway at Fashion Week Brooklyn 2014. I caught up with the designer after the show and here what he had to say.
Getthebuzz716: Tell me a little about your brand. Where are you from?
Akou: My name is Koaussi Norbert Akou, and my brand is AKOU. I am originally from Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa. I studied fashion in Paris, and now I am established in NYC.\
Getthebuzz716: What does fashion week Brooklyn mean to you?
Akou: FWB is a great space where emerging designers can make contacts and network, and I'm very happy for such a platform to present my creations. Even the name Brooklyn is well-known internationally, so that's great. I live in Manhattan but I love Brooklyn and the innovative vibe here.
Getthebuzz716: How would you define your Brand ?
Akou: AKOU is a new brand that was born in Africa, but has traveled a lot, and finds itself now in the US. It's a dynamic brand with an international flair, with looks that transverse continents. It's a hopeful brand for a new generation.
Getthbuzz716: How long does it usually take you to construct a piece?
Akou: Everything depends on the material and the garment time. It also depends on the team behind the look. If it's an urgent piece it can be done in three days. I like to take five days on piece in the ideal case, but if the price is right I can work all day and get a piece done in 24hrs.
Getthebuzz716: Describe the general process you go through to design and What's your favorite part about conceptualizing a design?
Akou: I take inspiration from the fabric, from artistic objects, from silhouettes, from landscapes, from anything really. I then start with a drawing, and I search for other fabrics and details and accessories. When it's finished I make the pattern. I sew, I make samples, and when it's ok I make the final piece.
Getthebuzz716:What matters to you most as a designer?
Akou: As a designer, the most important thing is that my artistic work be respected. These days everyone has access to large-scale production, so people don't take care of their clothes. It's cheap and throwaway and made of shoddy fabric. Part of my goal as a designer is to open up the world of high-quality clothes to more people, help the realize that it's better to have a few really nice clothes than a bunch of cheap clothes.
Getthebuzz716 :What do you believe makes a quality design ?
Akou: A quality design starts with the fabric. The fabric is maybe the most important part. The style and the cut and the definition all stems from that, and comes together to make the quality of the design.
Getthebuzz716: How would you define the style your line exemplifies?
Akou:My line has a luxury style, I love luxury. Classic haute-couture luxury.
Getthebuzz716: What are some of your fashion goals?
Akou: My fashion goal is tied to my roots as an African. I want to be known on the international market, and to sell my designs with other international designers, and promote fashion on a global scale.
Getthebuzz716: What other experience do you have in the fashion industry (stylist, retail, marketing, etc.)?
Akou: I had a boutique in Africa that I ran, and then I ran a boutique in New York for a while too.
Getthebuzz716: What are your favorite patterns/materials [prints] to work with and why?
Akou: I work on all the materials that inspire me. As a designer you can't get caught up in a single fabric. It blocks a lot of Africans designers that they only work with traditional African fabric. That's not me, I don't want to have a gimmick, I take my inspiration anywhere I can find it.
Getthebuzz716: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Akou: Check out my website akounyc.org. I'm also on facebook, twitter, and instagram: all @akoufashion. Email me at email@example.com for appointments to visit my home studio in the Morningside Heights neighborhoood of Manhattan.