Saturday, February 8, 2014

A follow up conversation with Zekaryas Solomon, an award winning designer.

                                                           Zekaryas Solomon. An award winning designer.

 Issayas: Zekaryas, thank you for you time, again. This is a follow up from our last conversation. Last time when we had a chat you had won awards. One of them was from FAFA. I saw the pictures from FAFA’s Fashion for Peace Gala Night. It must have been wonderful. I like where the designers put African cultural items on their respective designs.

Do you plan to do similar things? That is, putting Eritrean cultural elements into your design.

Zekaryas: FAFA ”Festival for Fashion and Arts, organizes 'Fashion for Peace' which is focused on bringing together established and emerging African fashion designers from across the continent”. The Gala night was just amazing. It was my first visit to Africa as an international Fashion Designer.
I did not expect much and wasn’t really 100% sure as to how things would work for me there. I went by myself, as none of my team members could accompany me. I was quite nervous, not knowing what to expect. The biggest surprise for me was when I arrived. Everything was so well organized for me. I did not need anything. The Catwalk Show at the Gala Night was just the best thing that could have happened to me. The stage was 40m long, the choreography was done very professionally and the models looked amazing. Adding cultural elements would be an interesting integration, though I do always love to keep things simple. Not wanting to limit my garments to being purely traditionally based, as everything I design has to be sold internationally. As you can see in some of the images, I specifically used "netzela/ gabi", a traditional fabric, manipulating it into a modern style and cut without adding embroidery as "'idiyat". There is a lot still to come from the House of Zekaryas Solomon in the future.

Issayas: When will your "Men’s Wear Spring/Summer Limited Edition" be out?

Zekaryas: The Collection is already out. We had our fabulous look book shoot in December; we have been showcased on the catwalk; and been filmed for a TV show, Pilot. We have been pushing our online marketing through social media platforms such as Twitter; Facebook; Pinterest; and Linked-In,
as well as having the collection ready for the launch of our website. We have already started taking orders, to be ready for immediate shipment to our customers all over the world. They were out before the Spring/Summer collections are out in the shops.

Issayas:  You have mentioned that you have added bags? Are you planning to add other items such as
shoes, tees, scarfs, etc.?

Zekaryas: That's true Issayas, finally "I am sharing things, after being selfish". Since I love bags, I have been creating bags for myself in different fabrics and styles. Whenever I carry one of my bags around with me I get asked where I get them. Once I explain that I design and make them myself people get very excited and usually want to own one of their own. In addition to this, my friends encouraged me to create and add them to my garment collections. So yes, I have created two bag collections now. The first was made last year using sportswear fabrics, which I adapted from my previous profession as an architect. I used to use these fabrics for interiors so I found them very suited for my bags firstly because of the lightness of the material and secondly because of the
strength. Another reason was the ease with which the fabric could be manipulated and how simple it is to clean. I do also have tie designs too, which were created for the special occasion of the World HIV day @ the Global Catwalk in London. The ideas and designs for shoes are there as well, but making shoes is another big project in itself. My idea for Zekaryas Solomon's shoes would ideally be to collaborate with a professional.

Issayas:  I looked through your website. It's beautiful. Your architectural expertise are written
all over it. Let's start with the logo. I love the logo, the color. What can you tell us about the logo? Would you put it in the context of logo as brand? I could see this brand everywhere.

Zekaryas: It took me a long time to decide if I should change my logo or not and if I did what would it be? There were suggestions to shorten my name but as I have been told from almost everyone, who reads, hears or knows my name, how unique and special it is. My decision was then to keep the full
name as it was but to create something visually special by manipulating my initials. I did a lot of playing until I eventually came up with the Z and S. The Idea was to use the Z mirrored as an S to make everyone stop and think about it for a second. The orange brackets are a design element added
by my graphic designer Jonatan. After asking him to help me with the Logo we were able to give it a 3D look and the perfect finishing. The orange is my signature color, which I use in most aspects of my work. I wanted the overall feeling of the logo to be timeless and modern, yet still simple enough to be used on a variety of media.

Issayas: Are your products mass-produced yet or they are made on order?

Zekaryas: Our garments are bespoke so they are made to measure. We try to work around our clients wishes, believing that every client we approach will appreciate the full package we offer. Our aim is to fit the garments to our clients’ bodies and not the other way around. The idea is to offer our clients
options that allow them to create their own look by choosing different colors and fabrics for different sections of the outfits. We will be soon cooperating with another company called Emblzn which is a new platform for designing and buying custom made products.

Issayas: What is your next plan? Are you thinking of accessories? Belts, wallets, etc.?

Zekaryas: Our future plan is to expand the business. 2014 has started greatly for us, we have gotten an extension of our incubation program @ Ravensbourne: one of London's greatest College of Design and Communication which allows us to use all the high quality facilities of the fashion department, with space to network, to cooperate and expand. In terms of designing, we are working on orders parallel to our Men / Women A/W 2014 Limited Collection. Our belt designs will be appearing soon, with whatever we design as accessories being part of our garment collections each season.

Check out Zekaryas' beautiful new website.

Issayas: Thank you, Zekaryas. I wish you all the best.

Zekaryas: Thank you.