APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Ariike Alden: Our brand is for Every Woman. It’s for the lady who likes to lunch, has to pick up her children from school, is holding down a career and overall is the woman all men admire and need in their life in one way or another and she looks good while doing it.
APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Ariike: I started designing from the age of 13, when I started my GCSE in textiles in my high school in London. From a very young age, fashion has always been a part of me. I couldn’t be a model, but I knew what good clothes were. So from that age on I pursued fashion as an interest and hobby; something I did very quietly, because I didn’t know how people would react to my styles. I use African prints and fabric because I am African. Born and raised and I love my culture and I celebrate it through my designs.
APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend? Is it here to stay?
Ariike: I love the rise of the African print and fabric trend because it is celebrating something, people were scared to experiment with many years ago. Now, if you are brave to wear African print, it shows how fashionable you are. I believe it is here to stay and that is great. It is in the mainstream and that can only be fabulous for Africa and us as people, because the Western world can experience a piece of our culture through our fashion.
APiF: What inspires you?
Ariike: Inspiration is drawn from everyday activities. It could be from a comment I read, a conversation I had or recall. An image you see as I am riding the train to a meeting. My inspiration is drawn from everywhere and I try to translate that into my designs through print and colour.
APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favourite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Ariike: My favourite piece would have to be Ariike Alden’s blue walk shirt dress. It is simple, sexy, short and stylish. To wear it with heels and a Louis V bag, big shades and a blazer… just awesome.
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Ariike: It is impossible to ignore the global appeal of the Internet so you will find us on the popular on line shopping sites in the UK and Africa but we’ve also recognised that our brand sells itself. The majority of the ladies who wear our designs get stopped and asked where they got their purchase. I was in a meeting and at the end as I was leaving one of the MEN from the meeting ran up to me and said “my wife would love your dress” and he reeled off a number of shops where he thought I had bought it. I simply smiled and said it is Ariike Alden original.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Ariike: Always make your vision a reality. Don’t follow what others are doing and really understand why you design the clothes you do. You will get it right sometimes and sometimes wrong, but you learn by doing. And enjoy what you do!