Portrait Series: Tega Akinola

Tega Akinola
After studying sports psychology at university, Tega Akinola’s upcycling passion project turned her into a successful innovative and creative designer. In a Q&A with our Creative Director Dominic Jones, she talks to us about where her inspiration is drawn from, the influence from her mother’s craft and love for jewellery.

Dominic: What are your design reference points and where does your inspiration come from?

Tega: I get a lot of inspiration from people, but the themes I like to reference are retro-futurism, cable designs, or atomic age fashion. I put an innovative spin and apply themes to my pieces. For example, when upcycling fleeces into bags [I like] mixing two ordinary things together - they're juxtaposed because you wouldn’t usually see a fleece outside a bag. I also get inspiration from people who upcycle, reuse and repurpose products.

Dominic: Was there a specific point of view you wanted to go down for recycling purposes and environmental reasons or was it more you just wanted to see those materials used that way?

Tega: When I first started upcycling, it was organic. I wasn’t upcycling, thinking I would be purposefully sustainable, but because it grew naturally, it was more authentic to me.

Dominic: It has a nice correlation with what we are doing as a brand with recovering gold. The idea of giving a new life to something that would have been wasted, mainly if you can recreate something in a way that elevates it and gives it beauty rather than necessity.


Dominic: What influence has your mother had on your process - is she the person who showed you how to construct?

Tega: My mother also studied chemistry and no fashion or design, so we followed the same path. She was the one that encouraged me to take old clothes from my wardrobe and turn them into something new and then learn how to sew.

She influenced me in the traditional ways of fashion and design, [by] being creative with the different materials that I have and creating patterns.

Dominic: How do you feel about jewellery?

Tega: I love jewellery. I’m usually a fan of silver but after the shoot. I realised how much gold suited me. I usually dress up and wear rings and a necklace. I think it's really cool how the 886 [by The Royal Mint] jewellery has been made in terms of the climate.