Asikara - the Lancashire fashion label with African influences
PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 March 2019
© Carl Jeffers
Asikara is a fashion label that takes African influences
When Laura Jeffers graduated from the University of Central Lancashire, she had big ambitions to work for a fashion designer.
But as many undergraduates know, it can be incredibly difficult to get into the field of your choice and often they will have to compromise their beliefs to fit into the company’s vision. After a couple of knockbacks and struggles to break through the rigid mould of fashion, Laura took her father’s advice.
‘He said to me one day “Why don’t you create your own company?” And for me that made sense.’
It also meant she didn’t have to change how she designed clothes. ‘I could do what I love with the freedom and flexibility of running my own company. I work to the beat of my own drum!’ she laughs.
Many families would balk at their child pursuing a career in the risky business that is fashion but Laura, from Preston, has an incredibly supportive family with her one-woman enterprise and her siblings are also in the creative field so they understand her passion.
‘My family has always been creative and from a young age I’ve loved being creative. I used to sew with my Nan when I was younger which is why I love creating and designing new clothes.’
Laura Jane’s fashion business was rebranded in 2017 after she sought advice from the Prince’s Trust who told her to create a name that reflected her brand. This is how Asikara – a combination of the terms which mean wonderfully made and a concept that fabric injects life into designs – came to fruition.
Asikara is a fashion label that takes African influences and fuses them with British design to create a contemporary, stylish and unique garments and accessories.
Though actually being from Caribbean descent, Laura takes her inspiration from people she knows in her local community.
‘In my church, everyone showcases their individuality and I was mesmerized by the African colours and when a friend of mine brought me back some colourful materials, I was hooked. I began to design and create head wraps and sell them at university. I never believed I’d be doing this as a job!’
Fashion means different things to different people but to Laura it means feeling empowered in the clothing you wear.
‘The fashion industry still has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity which is what I want to focus on,’ she says.
‘I want everyone to be able to put on an item of mine and feel confident. My label is all about highlighting your personality. That could be something in your face like the bright reversible trench coat or something more subtle like a handbag. I want to focus on being affordable and sustainable and cater for everyone.’
The design process is different for everyone but for Laura, she likes to start with the silhouette of the garment.
‘I’m inspired by so many things!’ she laughs. ‘Colour is of course a massive inspiration but I also look at social media and the cultural aspect to see how I can fuse these ideas together.
‘I also look at what the fashion trends are, as you should always be aware of what the industry is doing.
‘Plus I love seeing what some of my favourite designers do. I then start with the form and how it looks and how it will sit on the body.
‘Then I start with the details. One of my favourite things to make are the bow ties and the head-wraps. They are small in size but big in colour and I think they sometimes make the biggest impact.’
Even though Laura is young, she has big ideas and determination in where she wants her eclectic brand to go.
‘In 10 years time, I’d love to have broken into the industry of custom clothing, where customers pay to have unique pieces of clothing.
‘With this, you can create a great partnership between the customer and the designing process. I’ll also be keeping my store online as I believe that’s how I can remain in control.
‘But, overall, I want my label to remain memorable which I think is what everyone truly aspires to.’
With young entrepreneurs in the fashion world, it’s an exciting time to see where the industry – and Laura – will be heading.