This Beninese Designer Aims To Give Visibility To African Craftsmanship
By DeAnna Taylor
Kassim Lassissi is a 32-year old fashion designer with roots in Benin. While Paris is currently his home base, he travels frequently between Africa and Europe.
His clothing line, Allëdjo, is produced in Senegal and he often goes to Benin to visit his mother.
We spoke with the designer about his clothing line and the inspiration behind it.
TN: What inspired you to launch this brand?
Kassim: I never thought of launching a brand. One night I was in bed, reflecting on my life and my repeated failures. I drew a map of my passions, what I was I good at, and tried to analyze my previous experiences. I always knew I had a passion for travel and for discovering cultures. The jobs that typically come with that – cabin crew, journalist, or teacher – none of them seduced me. I have always had a passion for fashion, and I love exquisite printed fabrics. I decided to merge the two.
I’m Beninese, so I wanted to use my African roots. Twelve months later, the brand was launched. Allëdjo, is a patch work of many parts that define me. It is brand that merges travel and fashion, while showcasing African craftsmanship.
TN: How does your brand tie back to your African roots?
Kassim: Its name is a link to Africa. All the pieces are handmade by Senegalese tailors. Also, the past two collections were celebrating the culture of Marrakech. The upcoming collection is dedicated to Dakar. The brand travels each year and it will be through an eyes of an African citizen.
TN: What does the name of your brand mean?
Kassim: Allëdjo means wanderlust, a nomad, or a traveler in Yoruba, the mother tongue of my parents. Yoruba is a language spoken in West Africa, principally in Nigeria and Benin. I’m a travel spirited person and I wanted the brand to reflect it as much as possible.
TN: What is your vision for this brand?
Kassim: I would say, we aim to give visibility to African craftsmanship by delivering the highest quality of products. In the process, we will help develop the textile production industry on the continent by offering long-term job opportunities. We are convinced that there is no better way to achieve this goal than by opening Africa to the rest of the world.
TN: How are you using your platform to educate the world on Africa?
Kassim: When people think of Africa, they think of poverty, starvation and migrants. Allëdjo showcases African craftsmanship on an international stage and in a positive light. People can see that Africa has a lot to offer with impressive talents who just need to be more visible internationally. One of my goals with the brand is to show these talents. I want to show the world that we can produce refined products and in the end, dress the world.
TN: Where can we find you online?
Kassin: Our website www.alledjo.com. We can’t wait to dress the world.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.