Bodypainting with African tribes in Ethiopia, that is the source of inspiration of Philippe Vertriest for his clothing brand Akaso. The interest in the origins of his adoptive children brought him to the country. Vertriest received permission to contact one of the tribes, called the Kara tribe.
This tribe is known for its abstract body art and the same art is at the heart of Akaso. Each print from the Akaso collections, for example, is based on an existing work of art by an artist from the Kara tribe. Those artists who make their works available for reproduction enjoy the same pay as that of a Western freelance artist.
Akaso also has its heart in the right place when it comes to the environment. That's why the brand has all its clothes made in Europe and doesn't even get its fabrics far from home. Akaso works with producers in Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria. These producers were not chosen just like that either. For example, they need a clear strategy to reduce water consumption and increase the use of purified and recycled water.
The materials used by the brand are some of the most ecological there can be. Akaso likes to use Tencel, Modal and Viscose, all from the Austrian manufacturer Lenzing. This group is known for their ecological way of producing and guarantees to release as few chemicals as possible that have an impact on the environment. The sweaters are still made of ordinary cotton, but that will change by 2020. Akaso has chosen to work only with 100% organic cotton from then on.
For its knitwear, Akaso chooses the best quality yarn: Alpaca and Pima cotton from Peru, baby mohair from South Africa, cashmere from Mongolia, Mako cotton from the Egyptian mountains, Belgian and French linen, Merino wool from Uruguay, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. For this, the brand only works with different Italian suppliers, because they supply the best and most ethical wool. The use of a small amount of polyamide is applied to the garments in baby alpaca and merino wool. By adding this, you avoid stretching your piece and you can enjoy the quality for a longer period of time.
The Akaso handbags are made of calf leather from Tuscany.
Where the leather is tanned under strict rules. The brand also has its trimmings made in Italy. The handbags themselves are assembled in a factory in Portugal. A truly European brand with African roots!
And if that wasn't enough good news for the planet, Akaso goes one step further with their eco-packaging. Since 2018, the brand has had its clothing packed in Degralen, a biodegradable type of plastic. The shop's shoppers are made of FSC paper, which guarantees sustainable forestry, and when it rains, they provide a plastic cap made of corn to protect the bag.
It is therefore only logical, given that all production takes place in Europe, that the workers work in good working conditions and receive a fair wage. It is not only the European but also the members of the Kara tribe who benefit from Akaso's success. As has already been said, the artists receive a Western wage for their works of art. They, in turn, invest this wage in the sustainability and preservation of their tribe.
Quite a lot, isn't it? Now that you know everything, I bet you can't wait to score your own Akaso piece. So hurry up to one of the shops listed below and make your wardrobe a lot more durable!