Interview with 54 Kingdoms: Putting some Soul into Socks
APiF: Please introduce yourself.
54 Kingdoms: My name is Nana Poku, and I’m the founder & CEO of 54 Kingdoms. And I’m Kwaku Awuah, President of Operations at 54 Kingdoms.
APiF: Your latest product are socks – why socks?
54 Kingdoms: Besides being huge fans of colorful socks we wanted to push our creative envelope a bit. The global socks market, to put this in perspective, was valued at $5.6 billion (US), just two years ago and it continues to grow. But, if you study the market carefully, you see a huge gap for Pan-African designers, and that’s one of the reasons why we felt the need to break into the market.
APiF: What was the inspiration for the prints?
54 Kingdoms: Our research led us to the discovery of the earliest knitted socks (Coptic Socks), found in Egypt around the Coptic era. So, the word “Coptic” in the name is a tribute to the story that fueled our creative juices to design our first line of colorful knitted socks. The question, we always came back to during the creative process, was how do we inject some African soulfulness into Coptic Socks? Hence when you hear “Soles” in the name, it’s a metaphor for “Soul”; but also plays along with the idea of the product having a correlation to shoes and your foot.
There are five sets of designs for Coptic Soles: Afrikana, Caribbean, Kente, Shuka and Ubuhlalu. We explain the names and inspiration in more detail in this video.
APiF: What are the challenges when producing socks?
54 Kingdoms: How much time do you have? Ha ha ha, we can write a book on this experience. The entire project took two years, with production taking up about 8-10 months. Most colorful socks being sold even by giant retailers are printed, and that’s why the quality is subpar. It’s only a few designers that stay true to knitting. Our Coptic Soles are all 100% knitted with Egyptian combed cotton.
APiF: Who do you envision wearing the socks?
54 Kingdoms: There are no rules when it comes to fashion socks. Coptic Soles are multi-functional in a sense that you can pair them with a nice suit or casual wear. This current released version of Coptic Soles was designed for men (Kings). We aim to produce higher lengths for our Queens very soon.
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