Spotlight

An Encounter with a Home-Based Fashion Designer

Story Highlights
  • Fashion makes us unique
  • Fashion design

Fashion is what makes us unique amongst our peers be it locally or internationally. This interaction is about a fashion designer who designs from home. This is Dikupages.com’s interactive segment. I have identified this fashion designer and wanted to interact with him for a couple of weeks now. I spotted his design at a social gathering and planned to interact with him for the benefit of the world. He is in the person of Karim Alhassan who is a native of Tamale, Ghana.

Now, our encounter!

I can see you have a lot on your table. What is it you have here?

Well this is my work place, my workstation for now because where I work around here is not fixed. I sew in my room, the veranda and sometimes under the tree. Fashion is the state of the mind. Wherever you are, you can think fashion and it doesn’t have to be just at one place.

What motivates or inspires you as a fashion designer?

You’ve asked a complex but easy question to answer at the same time. I get inspired by life which means other artists; thus painters, singers, sculptures etc. Anybody who falls under the umbrella of the arts inspires me. When am doing an outfit for you, then you become my inspiration. Though sometimes I get influenced by chatting with friends. My personal life inspires me depending upon my emotional state; whether am happy or sad. Am very much excited by my creative designs; so that inspires me. For the fact that a dress is part of a person’s identity or culture, am inspired by it.

Now there’s art everywhere. As a minimum requirement for a designer is it an expectation that you should be able to sketch?

Honestly, yes. That is a requirement. A professionally trained fashion designer should be able to draw. If you are not designing for somebody, you are actually just drawing for yourself. Some people take it to a higher level so that they take courses in fashion illustrations. But i don’t have that professional training but I can do a whole lot for myself and my clients as well. I’ve the basic skills that have worked for me for the past 23 years of my designing. What is important here is to put down the idea on paper. It doesn’t have to look like the final outcome of what am going to design. The idea is just to know where to put what.

It is imperative to always put down whatever idea that comes to your mind either by writing or drawing so that you don’t lose it. Sometimes I get an idea down but no clue as to what fabric it is going to be.

I didn’t know you personally. I met someone at a social gathering, we talked and he told me you were the one that designed him. So, I took your contact number from him to schedule this interaction. But looking at your designing environment, it doesn’t appear well established to me. Why is that?

Well I’m a teacher by profession. I teach at a tertiary institution of which i wouldn’t like to disclose. I am a Master of Philosophy holder and teaching is my passion and I want to do it full time for the rest of my days in the job industry.

Designing is just a hobby for me. I don’t design or sew just to make money, though it is supportive. I just feel happy when am able to create something. I could quit teaching and do fashion full time if I had wanted to make money out of it. Averagely, I can sew five outfits in a day and charge GH₵40.00 on sewing alone. With this you can image how much I could make in a month.

Now if you do not want to do fashion full time, what made you go into it?

In fact, I didn’t actually learnt fashion. I can’t tell you how I became a fashion designer. My late father was a tailor. Though there were some sort of stylish designs at their time, but my father wasn’t into stylish fashion. I used to be with him after school, played with his tailoring machine when he wasn’t sewing. I used to create my own things as a child like sewing of my own school bag. I used to use the left-over of long sleeves shirt when it’s being cut into short sleeves to sew shorts not for sale and definitely not for myself. Just for creativity. It was fun during those days.

The only thing I wore at that time was a football pant I designed out of the material of an umbrella. You know those days, footballers were yearning for this football pant they used to called “rubber pant”. I designed a couple of them for my playmates for free. So, this is how I became a fashion designer. I picked it up from childhood and grew with it.

You are a teacher. How do your clients get you to do their outfits or dresses for them?

My designs are not all that open to the public. Though I do sew for friends of friends, but my designs are very much tailored to my friends, classmates and some particular close relatives. Some of these top politicians are wearing my designs especially those from the north. My colleague lecturers are using my designs. Sometimes I design for them myself what’s new in the system, and sometimes I design upon request. I even designed my wife’s wedding dress.

Wow! So, you do ladies dress too?

Yes.

Now that you don’t do fashion full time, how will the world benefit from your creativity when you can no longer create for the them?

I’ve two children; a son and a daughter. Even though I don’t want to choose a career for my ward, I would’ve love for my daughter to go into fashion. I will only guide them to realise their potentials as kids. My daughter is doing great in fashion and she is very creative. So am training her after school. She is in her final year and her younger brother is in his first both at the junior high level. She sewed both the school uniforms of his brother and hers. Though the brother didn’t want to use it initially; you know boys. So, the world should watch out for my daughter if am out of the system.

As a designer, if I’m given the opportunity to have you to make an outfit for me, do I have to describe my style or you have something I can choose from?

Of course. You will definitely have to tell me what you desire. Unless of course you don’t know what you want just yet, then I will give out my catalogue for you to choose from. As a fashion designer, I have pictures of all my creations. When that doesn’t work, I’ll now think of creating something new for you. I can take four of my creations and come out with an outfit for you.

As a fashion designer, I don’t really like to mimic. When you come with your style, I take it and either add or subtract to give it my professional touch.

Wow! I’m really grateful to have had this opportunity with you. Thank you very much for your time.

You are welcome!

Hmmm! You’ve read it all from our amazing fashion designer (Karim Alhassan). I’m sure you’ve loved this journey we’ve just encountered.

When we talk about fashion design, this is a little of what it is about. I did this interaction certainly not to get an outfit designed for me or go into fashion. But I hope you’ve learnt your fair portion of what fashion is all about.

However, two things I’ve learnt from this interaction are:

  • always put down your idea on paper before you lose it
  • learn to be creative in whatever career you are into.

I’ll end here and say that my next interaction could be with you, whatever you do and wherever you are.

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