Karina Bappa is a fashion designer with roots into both Ghana and Nigeria. While working on a range of semi-bespoke clothing for women, she came up with an idea to keep fashionable men happy. Although there is no excuse for wearing the same socks two days in a row, if your guy owns a pair of Amasokisi (Zulu for socks) you could understand why he might be tempted.
The brand is ‘Amasokisi’ by Hoofers International and Africa Fashion met with the founder Karina at The African Market to find out more.
The designs are based on indigenous African woven fabrics such as Kente from Ghana, Aso Oke from Nigeria and Shuka from Kenya and Uganda. These designs have deep cultural meaning and use symbols that carry important messages and proverbial sayings for the wearer. The socks, which are cotton enriched, are vibrant and true to the colours of the original fabrics.
In comparison to the stalls around her, Karina’s layout is positively minimalist, but the blaze of eye-catching colour is guaranteed to draw in passing visitors to The African Market. We asked her how they came about and were surprised to learn that the ‘Amasokisi’ were a by-product from her main business concept.
“We are launching our semi-bespoke dress service at the end of August”, Karina told us. “And I thought to myself, ‘What might sweeten the blow of spending all that money on your wife or girlfriend?’. The answer was a unique and highly fashionable gift for your partner to say ‘Thank you'”.
Hoofers, as a brand, seeks to bring quality clothing with a strong African/tribal flavour to the European market. The company’s philosophy centres on the incorporation of African design into everyday living within the global community in which we all exist – but produced in a way that retains the beauty, quality and integrity of the original pieces.
“Hoofers International is a small family run business and our origins are mixed”, she told us. “We are half Nigerian and half Ghanaian, raised in the UK and Ghana. Our family also lived in both Nigeria and Malaysia for a time’’.
Their products reflect an intimate knowledge of these cultures, particularly the West African and British traditions. The original fabrics that inspire these garments are mainly woven on large wooden looms and some of the family were trained on using looms when they attended secondary school in Ghana. The family also had knitting experience. Adding that to the mix it’s easy to see how the family then decided to re-interpret the fabrics as knitwear.
“For this reason we feel they remain true to the spirit of the original crafts and craftsmen”, said Karina. “We are not aware of any other African sock designers who can boast that kind of heritage”.
Karina acknowledges that Kente and other woven designs have successfully been printed onto various fabrics such as cotton, jersey and silk, but the beauty of converting Kente, for example, to knitwear is that it retains a strong texture, colour and theme throughout the fabric, just like the woven cloth, which also adds integrity to these original pieces.
“People long for something colourful, warm and vibrant to wear. To lift their spirits or to remind them of Africa, whether they originate from the continent or have simply fallen in love with it on vacation”, she explained. “While the Dutch Ankara prints have dominated the West African market, I wanted something more authentic, so I have chosen weaves with a Kente, Aso Oke or Shuka origin”.
So will Hoofers be limited to socks?
“Oh no!”, she exclaimed. “I already have plans for ties, pocket handkerchiefs and waist coats. Co-ordination will play a big part in the future of Hoofers Intl”.
We then asked about production – another area where Karina has strong views.
“It is tempting to go with a production centre in the Far East”, she told us. “But I wanted the highest quality possible and the tie-in between the UK and West Africa is so strong. All of my garments are made here in the UK and that’s where I would like my high-quality production to stay”.
Many of the designers that Africa Fashion has spoken with recently, have come from very different career backgrounds. So we asked if Karina has always been involved in fashion.
“I am a HR Director by day”, she said, smiling. “But the more I work around fashion, the more I love it”.
If you’re wondering where the interesting & catchy name comes from…it means ‘’professional dancer and so for us represents, elegance, vitality, movement, creativity. It is a derivative of the word Hoof which conjures up the image of something strong, reliable, dependable, agile and awesome. We thought that Hoofers was a great name for our vibrant, beautiful, elegant , quality socks.’
Africa Fashion certainly agrees the meaning and impressed by the range and cool packaging.
We wish Karina & family all the best with Hoofers International and their ‘Amasokisi’ products, which easily rivals any high-end sock brand.
If you have an opinion, then tell us over on Facebook.
If you want more info or wish to purchase a pair, then you should visit Fabric Gateaux.