Asirsam Kifle was born and raised in Ethiopia. From a young age he was intrigued by fashion and remembers himself regularly looking through fashion magazines and sketching designs. With a family background in the leather industry, his interest in working with the material has a strong foundation of knowledge and passion. Following on from completing his degree, Asirsam started working full time as a fashion designer. He has since been developing his skills as a designer and focusing on refining his work with leather in particular.
INTERVIEW WITH ASIRSAM
Tell us about the inspiration behind your project:
I wanted to make a product that blends Ethiopian traditional cloth with leather with a more modern style. For the colouring, golden yellow and blue are one of the most common colours in Ethiopian traditional cloth so I used them. I hand sprayed the colours on a crust level leather as I was aiming to make the leather with minimal processing. This was to maintain the leathers natural touch and to reduce strain on the environment. I envision the product to stand out, to celebrate African cultural beauty and to show to the world that Africa is rising.
What do you think makes leather a great material to design with?
As a designer, I always get fascinated by each hide or skin. Leather pieces are unique, they hold marks on them that can tell you the story of the origins. When designing my garments, I want to factor in this quality and choose a piece of leather that best expresses the design. For me, this makes Leather stand out from other materials, it lends itself to the design.
What are your thoughts on leather and sustainability, and how you think leather can adapt to a fashion industry increasingly focused on sustainability?
I think it is one of the most sustainable industries in the world. As the meat industry grows so does the number of skins and hides, consequently increasing the availability of leather as a byproduct to these industries. Leather is a centuries old industry and I think it will continue for centuries to come. A leather item is a timeless piece that can pass down generations with minimal maintenance unlike synthetic ones that are hard to recycle and we need to tell everybody.
How do you think winning this competition will impact your career as a designer?
I think it will give me exposure for my works on an international stage and to help me on my goal to cement my name as a world-renowned designer, to work with big fashion houses and develop my own fashion line.
Click here to learn about the Africa Design Competition.
Click here to learn more about leather and sustainability.