Eleksie designer of the week is Achie Otigo, a Kenyan designer I have admired for the longest.
From the time she launched her fashion label Fashion By Achie Otigo, this creative and talented designer has continued to create incredible pieces. She is talented and her designs speak for themselves. Her pieces have attracted a lot of people including Kenya’s beautiful artist Avril.
Achie has continued to develop several unique fashion collections. Her designs cuts across from edgy, sexy, body hugging to subtle flair dresses and gowns. There is currently a sale on all available designs and guess what? You get the designs at 50% off. If you have always wanted to wear a piece by Achie and felt you couldn’t afford, lady luck is on your side.
I recently interviewed the talented young fashion designer regarding her brand and her love for sewing and this is what she had to say. (view more designs on the gallery above)
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
I became a Fashion designer because I simply put, love to sew
Have you studied fashion design or had any form of training or this is strictly raw talent?
My mum tailored as a hobby mostly for me, my bros and dad. She also used to make those old school vitambaas for our couches. I loved being immersed in the experience of fiddling with fabric that would eventually turn to something useful. I took over her manual machine much later and the rest as they say is history. She was my first “teacher” so to speak, what I know now is self-taught.
Tell us a bit about Fashion by Achie Otigo.
My designs speak for themselves; they are just different. That has a lot to do with my creative process. I never plan, I roam around a lot on my free time looking for fabrics that “speak’’ to me. If I love it, I’ll buy it and go make something out of it then dash to buo art for a photoshoot J I am always surrounded by creatives, performers and such like people which explains why most of my design have that “special occasion” edge. I just can’t help myself.
What is your favorite part about being a fashion designer?
My favorite part is watching someone ooze joy, confidence and utter excitement whilst wearing my outfit. It gives me such euphoria; I live for it!
What has been one of the challenging creations?
The most challenging was my first wedding gown….longest month ever. Learnt a lot though so it’s all good.
What inspires your designs?
Inspiration; objects around me. I could get into a mathree and see some wires hanging somewhere and boom. It happens randomly. Most times when something gets stuck in my mind, it almost certainly will serve as muse. Besides that I love listening to upbeat music whilst working. I think it helps me get lost in my own world.
How do you select the materials/fabrics you use and what materials do you find difficult to work with if any?
I never plan what fabric to work with, whatever I love ill buys. Still working on perfecting my stitch-man ship with leather. I love experimenting.
What has been your experience working with Models?
So far so good. I am NO size-ist, if you are confident in your own skin and understand how I would want you to emote in a particular outfit; chances are we will work together. I’m obsessed with different archetypes with retrospect to what people regard beauty to be.
Have you done any fashion editorial?
Yes. Way back. I will have to confirm, it was probably couture magazine.
Is eco-fashion something you consider?
Yes. Eco fashion is important; my 4th year thesis was pivoted on the same. Still studying it though, I would love to grow my brand to a point where I have a division that focuses on waste re-use/repurposing. I know it’s now new concept however I feel it should be inculcated in everyday life as much as is feasible.
How do you balance creativity with business?
To date that is still a challenge. I go HAM on the creative at times. But I am still learning how to even the scale. I recently got a social media strategist helping me boost my online presence. I would LOVE to get a manager who understands me and my creative process…sigh. God’s speed.
What’s your latest fashion design project?
I am currently designing looks for TVCs and talk shows. Will keep you posted once they are released. Last Friday was the first time showcasing since 2014 at brew bistro’s Fashion Fridays. Amazing models!
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?
Be you. Unapologetically.
Do you feel there’s a significant interest for young designers at the moment?
There has always been a significant rise of young designers. The demarcation comes about because most of them do not understand the value of putting your best foot forward; I tell you details, finishing’s, pictures, interviews etc. are everything. If you perfect those among other things then clients start taking you seriously. Others do not study the technical part of it, it’s very crucial especially during client fittings as it helps you know exactly where the problem areas are and how to quickly fix them. Some have no clue but have funds: we call those brokers. Sigh. I would urge whoever wants to get into this business to think multi-dimensionally at all times.
What are your plans for the future?
To open warehouses run in Kenya by Kenyans churning Achie Otigo merchandise for local and international sale.
What mantra do you live by?