Capturing the vibrancy of Africa, Impala Clothing oozes bright colours and bold patterns of African textiles combined with western tastes and trends. Physiotherapist turned fashion designer Yaw Acquah has launched a fabulous brand which also oozes his passion for fashion as well as being an inspiration to others. I found out more about this bright, vivacious brand … hi and welcome to the blog Yaw…
Hello, I’m Yaw. I’m the founder/creative director/general dogsbody at IMPALA.
What inspired you to launch your own fashion label, IMPALA clothing?
It’s a long winded story which involves a few different influences!
Well, I guess the idea first came to me when I started wearing a traditional African shirt out and about and got a really positive response. So that started the cogs churning. The first idea was entirely based on producing one off shirts and skirts made from traditional wax print material, which is where a number of our vintage pieces such as the Wax Print Drum Skirt came from. But looking around the market, I could see a few companies already doing a similar thing. So I went back to the drawing board. I started to notice brands like HYPE!, Rachet Clothing and Jaded London, who made use of sublimation and digital prints. So I started to wonder if I could blend the African aesthetic with that streetwear look, in order to produce something more fresh and contemporary. That’s where I came to the current incarnation of IMPALA.
You were previously a physiotherapist – so when did you start to get a passion for fashion?
Actually I have always had an interest in fashion in someway. Admittedly, that has involved a few fashion faux pas over the years, such as my ‘nu-rave’ phase. When I was 14, I actually made a load of t shirt designs under the name Jungle Clothing. So, in someways, this is more of a rekindling of a passion, rather than completely coming to it afresh.
You’re a new fashion brand with a fresh & fun approach to fashion – infusing vibrant colours and bold patterns typical of African textiles with contemporary Western fashion themes. So, when choosing outfits to represent your brand, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?
For this first collection, it has definitely been a case of trying to gauge what would be popular in the coming season. So I spent a lot of time looking at other brands, fashion shows and bloggers to try and plan ahead. But being the only member of the team at the moment there is definitely a lot of ‘me’ in the collection. It certainly feels like a very personal project.
My favourite item from your collection is the vibrant wax print pencil skirt with drum print. What outfits are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
A definite favourite is the Tribal chevrons pullover. We’ve nearly sold out of that item in some sizes. That may have something to do with the arctic weather we had around our launch date. But to be honest most of our range has had a really great response. So I’m very grateful for that.
Out of all the outfits in your collection, what is your favourite?
I’m a sucker for the Ankara T shirt, although it’s a toss up between that and the Uganda t-shirt. The brighter the better for me.
Battling with both dyslexia and ADHD, you have managed to follow your dream nevertheless. What do you feel was the hardest part of getting your label launched? What advice would you give to others who aspire to see their passions materialise into reality?
I certainly feel that the hardest part of launching the label is getting the name of IMPALA out there. I have eschewed using the traditional marketplaces, such as ebay and etsy; the site is essentially an island on the internet. Which means I have to work extra hard to drive traffic to the site. I’m concentrating on engaging the media and bloggers, as well as looking to build on my social media and blog presence.
Which famous lady or man would you love to see as the “face” of IMPALA clothing?
Simply because I have a massive crush on her, I’m going to go with Rashida Jones. Although honourable mentions go to Solange Knowles and Lupita Nyogo.
Your collection is full of striking bold and vibrant colours – which I am a big fan of! Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2015 – what styles/ colours / new products do you hope to introduce to your collection?
Looking towards the A/W collection, there will be a definite move towards the more muted and earthy tones seen in African textiles – for instance, from Ghana some of the reds and blacks of the traditonal funeral cloths. As well as that I have a few half formed ideas, such as doing a football themed range or something using some tribal symbols. I’m definitely still in the creative stage so watch this space.
As you are based in the UK, is your clothing range available overseas too?
Yes, we are selling our items throughout the EU at the moment and we will be shipping worldwide in the near future.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Haha, I’m having a bit of an “interesting” phase at the moment. I’ve been pairing a black roll neck with a thin neck chain, dark skinny jeans, and brogues.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?(apart from your own!)
I’m going stick up for my fellow Brummies and say We Are Cow. They have a really cool vintage shop in Digbeth, I love their stuff.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I would absolutely love a pair Nike ‘run roches’ with a palm tree feed. So if there are any kindly Nike execs reading this, gifts are greatly appreciated.
Boots or Shoes?
Definitely shoes. Aged 17, I had a “Russell Brand” phase and wore pointy boots everywhere, suffice to say it didn’t workout well. Now I’m more careful in footwear choices.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about IMPALA clothing
Thank you very much for being a fab guest! The bright colours and patterns of West Africa always makes me feel cheerful and I look forward to seeing the earthy red tones too this Autumn. I wish you well with your plans for the future and I’m sure IMPALA will be a big success. So dear reader, are you a fan of bright colours? Do they cheer you up too? I’m a big fan of greens, yellows, oranges, reds and turquoise/aqua blues. I’d love to know your favourites, drop me a line and share your views!
All photos have been published with kind permission from Yaw Acquah (IMPALA clothing)
© 2015 – 2018, Linda. All rights reserved.