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Emel is a Djiboutian-Eritrean artist and founder of the online apparel brand ALÇA. She calls Tokyo her home, as she has lived there since 2011. Born and raised in Djibouti, she was drawn to art and the process of making clothes from scratch as a preteen. The Temple University graduate pursued Fashion in 2016 after getting her Bachelor Degree in Art. She had her first Solo Art exhibition in Tokyo’s finest area, Ginza, with as a special guest, her highness Princess Takamodo.
Emel draws inspiration from her African roots as well the effervescence of the city she presently lives in, Tokyo. Her curiosity and artistic approach to Fashion allows her to create unique yet universal garments. From drawing, to painting, to sculpture, she explored the art world and found herself drawn back to her childhood love: fashion. She went on to attend pattern making classes at ESMOD JAPON to widen her skills set. While doing so, she was luckily featured in a Japanese local show “You Wa Nani Shi Ni Nihon E” following a day in the life of foreigners living in Japan.
I grew up in Djibouti, a tiny country I eventually left at the age of 18. I knew from the get go my future held a lot of surprises. As a child, my 6 year old imagination was always birthing new ideas. I liked drawing, posed as a sculpture model for a good friend of my father who was the wife of the United States ambassador to Djibouti. That exposed me to art early on.
My fashion interest really started from a place of hurt and urgency. I was very skinny and the clothes I liked the most did not fit me, so I started hand sewing pants, tops and skirts from my aunts' rejected kaftans and found myself proud of what I had achieved with so little knowledge.
Fast forward to 2011, I was studying Art at the Temple University Japan Campus, but with a wild secret dream of pursuing my childhood passion - Fashion. I knew very little about it technically and theoretically, but the idea was stuck on my head's dream list. At the age of 26, once I graduated, I grabbed a sewing machine and registered for pattern making classes at ESMOD JAPON. While acknowledging the fact that I always had been outside the box, this time would be “the challenge of my life”.
I now embrace the fact that I am for the most part a self taught designer that never stops learning . I chose this path despite my fear, despite my age and with the trust that the universe support me if it sees that my motivation and passion are strong.
What inspired you to launch your own label and why did you decide to name it Alça? What has been your highest, happiest moment since launching your line?
After spending a year and half practicing on my machine, watching tutorials on YouTube and taking classes at Esmod Fashion School, I was ready to give a name to what I was doing. I was going to hop on as many opportunities as Tokyo could offer, and for that I wanted to officially start a brand.
ALÇA (pronounced Alssa), means the moon in Afar, one of the 2 local languages in Djibouti. I always had admired the moon and the obvious feminine energy it gives, so it made sense for me to connect any of my works (sculpture, painting, drawing or sewing) to it.
had never stepped foot in Africa.
Shortly after that, the scariest and most beautiful thing happened. I was going to show my work at Vancouver Fashion Week. That boosted my confidence to a point where I truly believed that chances are limitless. I was not a painter, a sculptor or a fashion designer anymore. I was really anything that I called myself and worked hard to become. The show went well, giving me international exposure, more confidence and definitely the drive to do things my way.
How would you describe your label? What is the aesthetic? Who is the customer you design for?
I like all of them, but if there was one to pick as a must have, it would have to be the red wrap dress that is half shiny and half glittery. I am in love with this piece because it so straight forward and in flow with the curves of the body. I think any woman would feel beautiful wearing it!
Where can readers find your garments? How can they purchase them?
Given that ALÇA is also an environment friendly brand, each piece is made only after you order it because no one likes waste! All you have to do is pre-order the garments now showing on our website at www.alcafashiondesign.com and, despite the corona and all that we have endured economically because of it, we will ship your purchase worldwide. AND the shipping is FREE!
- Website - www.alcafashiondesign.com
- Facebook - www.facebook.com/alcafashiondesign
- Instagram: Fashion Design - www.instagram.com/alcafashiondesign/
- Instagram: Artwork - www.instagram.com/pillowtalkwithpaper/