T-Shirt Lovers Alon and Stefania tell us why they set up their brand Lokko
Alon Hassid and Stefania Manfreda
Please describe your label in a couple of lines
High quality cotton t-shirts with unique designs inspired by Accra's urban reality. From the streets, for the streets.
Where were you born?
Alon was born in Israel and Stefania was born in Ghana
Where are you based now?
Alon is based in Israel and Stefania in Ghana
How did you get into fashion design?
By chance really. Alon is a t-shirt freak, and we felt Ghana at the time needed a fashion item that would identify it. The Chale Why? t-shirt was our banner t-shirt that started it all off. Because we had travelled a lot, and been to places where they had sort of a mascot t-shirt e.g. Thailand has the "same same" tee, US has the "I heart NY" tee, we wanted to do something of the sort for Ghana and our Chale Why? tee did the trick!
What inspires your designs?
Mainly the streets of Ghana and any other street trendy concept. We also keep our eyes on global fashion trends as well.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?
We have always tried to keep high quality standards for our products and the manufacturing process has been a bit of a challenge. Sourcing the right fabrics, high quality sewing, finishing and printing has not been easy, but at the moment we are working with international producers that have been able to meet our requirements.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Hearing from a friend that he spotted someone wearing one of our tees at an airport in London and also the constant demand we receive for our t-shirts from people abroad that have no connection with Ghana. This tells us people genuinely like our designs irrespective of their background.
What are your hopes and dreams for your business in the future?
We hope to establish lokko as an international t-shirt brand that will always have fresh and unique designs. We also want to expand our range of products to include fashion accessories.
What is the favourite piece you have designed and why?
Chale Why? T-shirt is Alon's favourite design. It is a strong characterization of Ghana's urban hustle and bustle - a hint of humour, the stress of city life and it's in pidgin English that brings it all the more closer to home.
Stefania's favourite tee is Kente Culture. It is currently under production but will be released very soon. It has a very electronic street pop look but the concept is one that connects back centuries to Ghana's fashion heritage - the kente cloth.
If you could design an outfit for one person, who would you choose and why?
There isn't a particular person we would design for; the broad spectrum of t-shirt fans is infinite... let's say it could however be someone who has good taste and can spot something different when he sees it.
What is the most important advice you would give to young people looking for a career in fashion?
Have a strong concept, reliable suppliers, know your clients' taste and be aware that you might have to make sacrifices in the beginning before you establish yourself.