CP: So where does the name 54 Kingdoms come from?
Nana: Well there are 54 nations in Africa and Kingdoms is a reference to the the whole Pan African movement. It’s not just about Africa it’s our brothers and sisters overseas, the West Indies the Americas, anyone that believes in their African Ancestry and the African bloodline that is the Kingdom.
CP: Tell me about the tag line I’ve seen on your website “Identity through Fashion”
Kwaku: Identity through fashion, that means when you are wearing 54 Kingdoms clothing you know exactly what you’re wearing. You know you are inspired,you are proud, you’re educated and motivated. They say if you educate one man you educate a million ...and that's what we’re trying to do.
CP: So how do the two of you handle the design process?
Kwaku: The design stage is pretty much a back and forth process. Nana comes up with most of the designs he sends them to me and I go over them, see what makes sense and what doesn't make sense. I do my research and get back to him, there’s a whole lot of research and development before we actually come up with a concept. We’ve released three collections in our lifetime; The freshmen collection , that was the first stage. For the world cup we did the Hybrid Collection and for Africa Fashion Week we did the genesis collection coming out in the fall.
Nana: The creative moments with 54 Kingdoms are when we’re highlighting something that a lot of people don’t know about and targeting misconceptions that related to African culture and the whole Pan African Culture. Researching and trying to find out why the misconception exists and then bringing it to light. Turning a negative into a positive, uncovering something that's hidden and bringing it out into the open.
CP: Can you give me an example of how you’ve managed to work that concept into your designs?
Nana: For instance we have something in the Genesis collection a bag that's known to a lot of people in the western part of Africa as the “Ghana must go Bag.” The reason its known as “Ghana must go” is because in Ghana’s past because of economic turmoil a lot of people went to Nigeria and when they went to Nigeria a lot of the people were fed up and saying a lot of Ghanians are coming to the country and messing up the country so when Ghanaians were coming to Nigeria they had a bag that was checkered, it was red and blue and white and there’s also a black version. So they called it Ghana must go as in Ghana must take their stuff and go back where they came from. So that’s the misconception of that bag and we turned that, misconception that fabric something that was so negative and turned it into something that’s positive and we made it fashion.
CP: I know that 54 Kingdoms is very dedicated to community activities can you tell me a something about your work in that area?
Kwaku: Well besides doing fashion, when you are a company you have to accept social responsibility. whether you like it or not because the consumers that put money in my company are the same people that struggle when there is a disaster and you have to be able to give back to the community that supported you throughout your journey.
CP: Tell me about your “Built For Haiti” benefit project
Kwaku: 54 Kingdoms have teamed up with an organization in New York called Edeyo Foundation. Edeyo actually means “help them”, and the mission of Edeyo is pretty much to rebuild schools in Bel-Air, Port Au Prince. We have a website called built for Haiti, and all our proceeds go to Edeyo Foundation to help them out with their mission.
CP: Now that AFWNY is coming to a close what's next for you guys?
Kwaku: The next thing is to go into mass production stage, we’re looking to be working with a lot of retail stores. We’re open for global distribution, we really want this to be a whole movement when people are one body one mind they move better,we want this to be the embodiment of a movement.