What is happening when African and Western common sense are mixed together? A vibrant, soulful, unique way-of-style in which traditional African patterns and minimalist designs blow up. Born from West African parents, raised in Provence, well established in Paris, nowadays a globetrotter between London and Dakar. Fanta is a woman, a talented designer and a brilliant entrepreneur, who has been able to show us the young face of an emerging country where heritage and innovation are slowly finding their place. In Senegal, it is usual to wear handmade clothes and easy to find skilled artisans able to bring to life extraordinary colourful and strong products. F▼KA is not only a collection of beautiful bags, it is a fusion where traditional elements such as Rabaal, a handwoven fabric used for key-life events, meet the Western taste merging with the best leathers and python skins.
Could you please tell me more about F▼KA philosophy? You define yourself as an “Afropolitan”, what does that mean?
An afropolitan is someone with a foot in Africa and the other foot in another part of the world, we’re looking at the world with our traditional values, which is an important part of our lifestyle. We like to be elegant and even if we’re living with several western codes we are deeply attached to eat, look and talk in a more traditional “Afro” way. With F▼KA, I share my mixed culture and how I catch beauty through those inherited glasses.
I think emerging countries can improve fashion with a new energy, how your African roots have been influencing your work?
My work is deeply influenced by traditional patterns meaning and craftsmanship. In my mother’s country, almost everything is handcrafted because it’s often less expensive to have clothes and accessories tailored by local artisans than buying “luxury” ready-to-wear from local designers or western brands. As a result, self-expression through clothing is common sense for women and men, who love to play with colours and shapes. The same reality is lived by many African in different countries with different influences and referrals, which for me make the continent the best inspirational source for fashion.
When did you start your journey in fashion?
I’ve always known I would be a designer because, since my childhood, I was fascinated by the process of creating beautiful and practical objects for people. This is the reason who made me choose product design when I started my design school. My first experience in fashion was in 2008 in Paris, with a streetwear brand. I was in charge of the global image of the brand online and after that I knew I will definitely be more fashion oriented, so after a trip to Senegal in 2011, I decided to go deeper and took a course in management of fashion and luxury companies. Since then, I started F▼KA and now focus on making it grow from seed to a beautiful fashionable tree.
Let’s talk about S/S 2018 collection, what is the main trend?
For me, one of the most noticeable trends for SS 2018 is the return of the fanny pack. I’ve included hip bags in my last collection Seven Sisters in the Air and they have been very well received, so I’m also confident that my instinct shows me the right direction. Another really interesting trend is the multiplication of patterns, used by many designers for this season and for many african designer it is the best thing ever.
What kind of woman is your customer?
I’m designing handbags for women with confidence, gut about their style and bold identity, my aim being to offer them products with a soul who can be worn through generations and trends. Overall, many of my customers have an ethnic-chic gene in their DNA.
Where can we buy your handbags?
All the collections are available to shop on my website: www.atelierfka.com We’re offering both unique edition collections and bespoke option so our customers can order their very own handbags – to fit the way we’re doing it in Senegal. Last but not least, we recently started to offer a payment plan option to our customers with Partial.ly, so they don’t have to struggle to choose the best handbags, they can just have them all!
What is the most difficult thing for a young designer?
The biggest challenge for me is to make sure I get the brand in the right place, at the right time because it’s obviously a big deal for a young brand to gain awareness around their products at the beginning and I have to say that social network and NJAL (Not Just A Label) have been a huge help for us to get in contact with customers.
What are your projects for the upcoming future?
The first milestone, for now, is to extend our resellers network in Europe, America and Africa. I also plan to offer a wider range of accessories and to launch an apparel line by next year, still using leather and Rabaal.