Human Connections: Valentine / AKHO
Human Connections is about those people that inspire us. In this latest installment we chat with Valentine Robin who is the founder of AKHO Paris. AKHO is committed to sustainable fashion and ethical production. The brand achieves this by using "dormant" fabric stock preventing them from ending up in a landfill and working closely with their production partners. You can learn more about AKHO by clicking here. Enjoy the interview.
What is Akho's genesis ? What made you start this company right after university?
Akho's history has been inspired by trips, by various discoveries, by an open mind. While traveling on business, I saw the massive destruction of fabric in South Africa. That had a real impact on me which encouraged me to create a brand of clothing without having to produce new raw material. The idea was simple : we recycle fabric that already exists and we make new pieces in limited editions.
Nowadays, what is your vision of fashion ? How do you get these precious treasures from the past, i.e. stocks of vintage fabric ?
The textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world today. Overproduction, overdestruction, outrageous consumption and the fight to make prices always lower have destroyed production lines. But I am convinced that there is still a way to reverse this. To get this industry back on its feet and to make something rather virtuous. There are several ways to accomplish this and I have chosen upcycling. Finding new fabric which has been in storage for years and making it new again. It is difficult to get such material, especially at the beginning and when you are not in the business. But over time, I have developed a system of permanent sourcing networks thanks to the trust of manufacturers and resellers.
What is your relationship with craftsmanship? How do you select the workshops that you want to work with in Porto?
Craftsmanship and savoir-faire are two things that guide every one of my decisions at Akho. Responsible fashion is one that is timeless and whose quality is guaranteed to last a long time. I have selected my workshops while remembering that the quality of production and the total respect of human conditions are two things that I am relentless about. My partners come from several generations in the business and have accompanied me on a daily basis in the development of fashion that is more just, more durable and healthier.
During the trip with SALT. in your workshops, it was obvious that there was a real connection between the craftsmen and your teams, as well as in Paris via your series ''Wear to create''... How important is it to have these meaningful connections to other creators?
Being an entrepreneur is inseparable from meeting new people. And this is the reason why I have decided to start up the business. It is something that is crucial, both from a professional and personal viewpoint. To start up a business alone is difficult. You need to learn to surround yourself with competent workers, leave your comfort zone and listen to what is being said. With your team of course, that has been built over time but equally with inspiring individuals who give a sense to what they are doing and who allow us to have a new vision of craftmanship. That is why I have created ''Wear to create'', a series of interviews that introduces artists from all horizons, artists who discuss their relationship to art, to their inspiration and to their vision of fashion.
"A Collection, A Country" ... Travelling and nature seem to be your main source of inspiration. Can you tell us more about that ? Where are you going to take us next time ?
"A Collection, A Country". It's the engine and Akho's main source of inspiration. Twice a year, we take our company to a new country in order to study its history, its savoir-faire, its ancestral techniques, its scenery... For the next season : Morocco... We can't wait to tell you more about it !
... finally, what pair of SALT. sunglasses can't you do without?
That's difficult to say because I have had the opportunity of wearing several pairs... But I really love Courtney sunglasses. They're super original and comfortable !