J A C Q U I . A K R O F I . L O N D O N
Name: Jacqui Akrofi
Talent: Womenswear Design
Location: London, UK
Achievements: Founder of JAL (Jacqui Akrofi London)
Womenswear designer Jacqui Akrofi is one of the most talented young designers in London. A Ghanaian, born and raised in the UK, Jacqui has always had a unique sense of style. Having graduated from the University of Creative Arts, she went on to launch her hugely sought after brand Jacqui Akrofi London ‘JAL’.
2017 promises to be a great year as she builds on her blossoming portfolio. We sat down to discuss all things design. Here’s how it went down…
Integr8: How would you define your personal sense of style?
Jacqui: I would say my personal style is relaxed however my friends do say that I’m quite glam *laughs. My style could be defined as classy yet chilled.
I: Do JAL designs embody your own style?
J: JAL designs are a magnified version of my personal style. They essentially represent freedom of expression. If I was free and had the money to glam up. My goal is to create a powerful, feline, strong and classy look. The perfect person that embodies this is Naomi Campbell. She doesn’t need to say anything but when she walks into the room her presence is felt. She says a whole lot without having to say anything – that’s the JAL woman.
Also, having grown up around boys (I have four brothers), I would like my designs to have a masculine touch but still be very feminine and classy. Victoria Beckham is someone I look up to who does this very well.
I: Who are your favourite designer(s)?
J: Olivier Rousteing (Balmain)
I: Have your family been supportive?
J: Yes! My family have been and continue to be very supportive. I’m lucky in the sense that they are also very entrepreneurial. For example, my brother is a personal trainer developing his own business, which helps.
I: Favourite colours and fabrics to work with?
J: My favourite colours to work with are black and white. I also like earthy tones such as cream and brown and adore intense colours such as deep green and deep red.
I was taught that fabric is key. It makes all the difference in terms of trying to achieve the right look. Silk and schiffon are a must especially when comes to evening dresses. I love silk!
I: Are there any brands you aspire to emulate?
J: I aspire for JAL to become THE high end luxury brand. Being someone who’s big on Coats and Jackets, I love the edge Gareth Pugh and Givenchy bring to their outerwear lines. I’ve also always been a fan of Burberry.
I: Do you have a Favourite African designer?
J: Of course! I really love what Bayo is doing with his brand, Orange Culture. I admire the creativity he puts into his work: The clothes, the models, the visuals..It’s easy to see he pays attention to detail. Whenever he happens to be in London, we take time to hang out with each other, have fun and bounce off ideas from each other. I also love Lisa Folawiyo.
I: What advice would you give to other young designers?
J: The key word is “Process”.
There are a number of different elements which come together to create a design. For example, if I want to create a bespoke leather jacket I’d need a seamstress, machinist, pattern cutters and money to buy fabrics. After the jacket is made, the next step would be to get it out there. To do that, I would need a P.R team and stylists who know the right celebrities to wear your design at important events. Lastly, If I wanted to sell the designs, I would need to stock inventory which need to be ready for clients.
I have learned that it’s a process which requires a good team around you and patience.
I: Any Plans for 2017?
J: I plan to develop and put out more products for my Ready to wear line and evening wear brand. Ready to wear is a more casual, comfortable approach whereas evening wear is more dressy. Those are clothes you may only wear once.