APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
54 Kingdoms: Launched in 2009, 54 Kingdoms is an apparel company that brings the Pan-African creative, history and culture to the doorstep of global fashion. The number 54 symbolizes the total number of countries in Africa, when the company was established; the word Kingdoms signifies that each and every African country is a part of a larger kingdom spanning overseas to include the African Diaspora. 54 Kingdoms is under the leadership of Ghanaian born natives, Nana Poku and Kwaku Awuah, C.E.O. and President respectively. 54 Kingdoms’ mission is to bring the ideology of ethnicity, culture and fashion integration to a higher level by creating pieces tailored to the relevancy and appeal of its consumers.
APiF: How does your heritage inspire you/your collection?
54 Kingdoms: At 54 Kingdoms we design to educate, empower and motivate. All of our designs have significant meanings and draw inspiration from the African Diaspora. Hence, 54 Kingdoms does not design FOR the Diaspora, we design THROUGH. These inspirations help us tell our story; some do it through music, we do it through fashion.
APiF: “It’s a Kulture, not a Brand” – can you explain what you mean by that?54 Kingdoms: At 54 Kingdoms, it’s not just about dressing to IMPRESS, but to also EXPRESS culture, pride and identity, hence our motto “It’s a Kulture, not a Brand!” Brands come and go, but our culture remains. In everything we do, we put pride and identity first. Our pride is Pan-Africa; that’s who we are as brains behind this company. We preserve and promote our history through our clothing, so when you wear a 54 Kingdoms product, you are wearing a piece of culture.
APiF: As you create fashion for men and women – what is the one item from your collection every man should have in his closet?
54 Kingdoms: From our recent Kingdom Come collection, we believe every man should have our University of Afrika (UoA) leisure tops and sweater in his closet. The design is inspired by Timbuktu’s golden era and its impact on global education. To learn more about the UoA concept, watch our video.
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
54 Kingdoms: We are primarily an online-based entity, so our website is the best place to shop our products. In Ghana, our products are available at the Aya Morrison atelier located in Dzorwulu, Accra. In addition, we are in partnership with a few upcoming online boutiques to carry our products as well. Our online purchases are shippable to any U.S. location, Canada and the U.K.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
54 Kingdoms: The fashion industry is very complex, so it is important to be unique. It’s not easy separating your style from the competition, but if you are able to do that, you will find your niche and that’s how you become successful. The truth is, you don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great!