What makes Antidote’s boutique innovative is the continuous search for lines and brands that are able to meet the requirements of eco-sustainable luxury in accordance with the rules that Sophie Zembra has established in conceiving the store. Also the reason why her collections are always looking for new stimuli, sharing of thoughts and ideals and above all ways of working, which operate respecting the traditions of the peoples of Africa and South America. This month’s Morning Story goes to the heart of all this illustrating the new brand that has become part of the Antidote showcase. Special guest is Stephanie Theis Fajardo, of Colombian origin, creative founder of the brand Akoma 1260, who illustrated how her project was born, what is her vision and what is different of Akoma 1260 from other brands.
Akoma 1260 was born essentially from Stephanie’s love for travel combined with the pleasure of getting to know the local cultures and traditions, their customs and their way of working in respect of nature.
Stephanie recounts that the project ideally came to life years ago when, on the occasion of a friend’s wedding in Nicaragua, she met the original Ghanaian fabric Kente, made using the weaving method on a wooden frame whose name probably derives from the similarity of weaving to braiding of a basket. Kente was also known as the fabric of the king, due to the fact that only kings could afford to wear the precious fabric both for the use of precious materials such as silk, linen, cotton and precious threads brought later from the first European sailors, and for the elaborate weaving system with which strips of 7.5 / 11.5 cm size are produced, which then need to be joined together. The original Kente is colored with roots and leaves that take a long time because of the color passages until the desired shade is achieved. It was only years later, when Stephanie returned to Ghana and personally wanted to deepen the art of Kente discovering the meanings, symbols and colors that the various designs represent that made her further appreciate its value. She made her first Kente jacket that combined the interweaving of traditional African fabrics with a more modern and dynamic model in line with the style of the 21st century. A model that pleased both the locals of Ghana who saw innovation in respect of their tradition and the Colombians who appreciated the harmony of the designs and craftsmanship. The jacket is still a flagship model of the brand.
After intense research, Stephanie found the opportunity to collaborate with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a flagship program of the International Trade Center, a joint agency of the UN and the World Trade Organization, whose motto is Not Charity, Just Work is the choicest part of Stephanie’s desire to create lasting opportunities for marginalized communities. So in 2017 she decided to join forces in her native country, with the forces of the African populations and create an original project: to make clothes in African fabrics handmade according to the ancient traditions of the local populations and then finish them in Colombia where each piece is lined with charmeuse in 100% natural silk. With this premise, the union of the forces of Colombia and Ghana was born the brand Akoma 1260 represented by a hummingbird, native bird of the Americas, and the word Akoma that in the meaning of the symbolism Adinkra of Ghana which means heart, while the number 1260 represents the heartbeat of the hummingbird which is 1260 times per minute.
In addition to Ghana, Akoma 1260 has intertwined relations with Burkina Faso and Mali with its indissociable Bogolan fabric, naturally dyed with fermented mud, operating in the same way in accordance with local traditions.
The brand produces exclusively jackets, of different sizes: Box Jacket, Cardigan, Military Jacket, and skirts: Mini Skirt, Pencil Skirt and Pencil Fringes Skirt.
Once the cut has been identified, one proceeds to the selection of the fabric to choose among the products woven in Mali, in gray, green and brown colors; in Burkina Faso choosing between orange, blue and red and the precious Kente, listed with a numbering that distinguishes the design: number 9, 10,13,14,15,16, 17,18,19,20, 21,22,23,25. The last step of production for the made-to-measure garment is the specification of dimensions and measurements taken through the precise indications provided by Akoma 1260 on the site. The waiting time to have a jacket or a skirt, unless you are among the lucky ones that perfectly fit the garments already sold by Antidote, vary from 4 to 10 weeks. This guarantees a job done to perfection.
And while Akoma 1260 intends to expand its production on the same wavelength with the precious Ikat of Malaysia and Indonesia, all this work demonstrates the fact that sustainable luxury and ethical fashion work, and should be seen as normal, which reflects the importance of conscious choices made by choosing garments that have a history made of harmonious traditions respecting nature and lasting over time.