We spotted fashion designer Akiala I. at a Conscious Creatives meeting at Maze Haus of the Sacred Smoker Sanctuary. With so many new faces arriving in town every day, it was refreshing to find a Denver native, one who continues to find inspiration in her own town. We chatted with Akiala, who describes her look as "cute, street and exotic," to learn more about her designs, where she shops and her style mantra.
Her design background: "I have been sewing since I was eight years old. My mom got me a little Singer sewing machine, and I just started learning on that, and then I decided to become home-schooled so I could focus on sewing more. I started taking lessons from this ballroom dancer and got to work on a dress for Miss Colorado with rhinestones and feathers. A family friend who had lots of sewing experience took me under her wing to teach me sewing as well, and then I started apprenticing. When I went back to school, I went to the Denver School of the Arts for Stage Craft and Design, so I made a lot of the costumes for shows there. I transferred to East High School after that, where I started a fashion club. I have always been sewing, and fashion is my thing."
Absolute Vibe is the current name of Akiala's clothing line, which will soon transition into Aki. "I would love to create one-of-a-kind costumes for artists, like for performances or music videos, to help them channel their inner star," she says.
Style inspirations and icons: "Some of my general inspirations in life are Salvador Dalí, Erykah Badu and Frida Kahlo. Those people always seem very authentic to me and focused on their art, not really caring about anything else. They have a different perspective on things. Lately I've been inspired by Italian architecture and interior design; I love modern Italian furniture. It's been influencing my fashion, which is interesting."
Favorite color: "My favorite color changes a lot, but right now I like mauve, teal and black."
Favorite accessory: "Lately I've been loving my earrings and gold chains, but I think rings are the biggest accessory. They make me feel like a goddess. Rings are important."
Favorite film: "I love Kama Sutra and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I love The Grand Budapest Hotel as well; that's a very inspirational film. Samsara is visually beautiful, and I felt really moved when I watched that film."
Jam of the moment: "My favorite song right now is 'Lady,' by D'Angelo. Also anything by the artist Thundercat."
Style mantra: "I really like to dress based on the day and how I'm feeling. So sometimes I will have more of a costume-based outfit and then sometimes I can be tomboyish with some Dickies shorts. I like to keep it simple with a hint of complexity."
Shops at: "Usually Buffalo Exchange or thrift stores. Honestly, I buy a piece of clothing like every six months just because I make so many of my own clothes and fit them to my body. If I do buy old clothes, I like to make them new. My goal for 2017 is to have only pieces I have made or refurbished in my closet."
Akiala is starting to dabble in other artistic mediums: writing poetry, painting, directing and editing videos, dancing and cooking. "I originally started out dancing when I was four," she says.
And while she's returning to some of her old interests, Denver is also reviving earlier looks. "I have noticed punk styles coming back," Akiala says, "and also ’90s styles are popular right now, with the windbreakers and snap-backs. People are taking it back. Fashion is extremely important to figure out how you want to present yourself to the world."
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You can purchase some of Akiala's work at 905 Studios at 905 East Colfax Avenue.
Like Akiala, always be creative and present the best version of yourself to the world, Denver.