Colorcult – Bag your passion
Introducing Senongo Akpem- originally from Nigeria, he lives in Kyoto, Japan and designs original handbags and accessories from Nigerian cloth and silk-screened print designs.
“All the fabric I use is bought in Nigeria, West Africa. (I’m from Nigeria) I choose fabrics with big patterns and interesting color combinations. In Japan, I silk-screen illustrations and designs on the fabric, and then hand-sew each one into a finished piece. This means each one is original, and can’t be duplicated. I often add cloth flowers and other finishing accents on the bags, but the main impact comes from the color of the cloth and the printing.”
Senongo also order-makes bags for his customers. They get to choose from a variety of fabrics, color scheme and style of bag. He puts in a lot of effort for each bag, claiming that “Although it takes a bit more time to decide everything, the response to having a bag they had a part in making is overwhelmingly positive.”
Senongo also adds a personal touch to all of his deliveries by adding a handwritten thank-you note in each bag, “so when they open it for the first time, they see a little something from me.” He says about 90 percent of Colorcult customers are women, aged 25-50 but that some are men who order t-shirts or backpacks. His bags sell because of their very unique colors which, unlike most leather bags, are lively and eye-catching.
When asked what parts of Japan he is most inspired by, he reflected that it was the attention to quality in the Japanese aesthetic. “I continually improve the construction and design of my bags to meet Japanese womens quality and craftsmanship standards.” he says, “Design-wise, I look at the patterns in traditional Japanese fabric, and use some of them in my silkscreens, as well as the more modern fashion on the streets like T-shirts and bags.”
His other inspiration? His mother. “My mother was always sewing, and she taught me how to sew at a very young age, perhaps at 6 or 7 years old. She taught me the love of visualizing and then creating with fabric and thread, and I guess that has stuck with me for all these years.”
Check out his work at Colorcult.com!