APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Eva Sonaike: Eva Sonaike is a London-based luxury home-accessories and fashion-accessories company using traditional African and African-inspired textiles in vibrant colors. Our mission Bringing Color to Life is to enhance peoples lives with color through the use of our own vibrant and bold textiles that are used in the bi-annual collections of cushions, notebooks and handbags.
APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Eva: I always loved African fabrics, in particular the colorful wax fabrics (ankara) and the elegant aso oke, a handwoven Yoruba cloth, so I started my company on the basis of incorporating these fabrics into my designs. I also felt that African textiles were not widely used in interiors and especially in the high-end segment on the market.
APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Eva: It is fantastic, that African fabrics, in particular the wax fabrics, are now used in many different ways and are a bit more mainstream. Unfortunately, many people don’t know anything about the history of the fabrics. They are not authentic African fabrics, but generate from Indonesia and were originally manufactured for the African market in Holland.
APiF: Is African Print in the fashion/design industry here to stay?
Eva: I think African fabric established itself by now in the fashion and design industry. I wrote my thesis for my MA in Fashion in 2005 on African Contemporary Fashion and kept an eye on the market since then. In about 2004 the first mainstream high street brands started using African-inspired fabrics and they have been used since then.
APiF: What inspires u?
Eva: I am inspired by so many different thing. One important source of inspiration is nature. My whole new collection ‘Aburi’ was inspired by a visit to Aburi Gardens, a botanical garden outside Accra in Ghana. I love the shapes and textures of tropical flowers and leaves and the lush greens are just breathtaking.
Color is also a very important aspect of my life. There are only a few days a year that I wear only black, which also transcends into my work. The joy and energy I get from combining different color is amazing! The color blocking trend that dominated the catwalks over the last season was very normal for me. I dress like that nearly every day.
APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your collection and why?
Eva: I love my new ‘Aburi’ collection, which is my first collection of fabrics. I use them on my cushions, my notebooks and handbags. It totally reflects what Eva Sonaike is about: Bringing Color to Life!
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion/design industry?
Eva: You have to be passionate and almost obsessed with your business idea. Loving and believing in what you do is half the rent. The other important thing is to get a business partner or mentor, who can help you with the business.