10 Sep Fashiontonian of the Month: Aba Kwawu
Each month we showcase a Washingtonian who works in a fashion related industry. By doing this we hope to show off the great talent we have in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. We are excited to announce publicist and owner of premier luxury public relations firm The Aba Agency Aba Kwawu as our September 2012 “Fashiontonian of the Month.”
We hear this is the 10th Anniversary of your company, The Aba Agency. What inspired you to start the agency?
There seems to be a boom in independent retailers, designers, photographers etc in DC, is this a real movement that’s leading to industry or just a trend?
It is a real movement. I am so proud of the raw talent that exists in DC today. We have bone fide international retail moguls like Iraklis Karabassis of IK Retail (G-Star Raw, Piazza Sempione, Max Mara, Emporio) in our backyard and the likes of fashion photographers Walter Grio, Anton Papich and Tim Coburn thriving in DC. Retailers such as Muleh, Redeem, Relish, Hu’s Wear/Shoes have gained national attention and local designers Paula Mendoza, Pranav Vora, Crystal Hannon and Marti Horwitz are making their mark on the industry.
What advice do you have for DC designers? What should be their strategy for success?
Don’t just mimic the trends. Create a distinct point of view and build a loyal clientele. Look at the success of “in the know” international brands like Isabel Toledo and Yeohlee and know that it can be done. They are less concerned with ads in Vogue and runway spectaculars and more about the craft and quality of design. I would like to see more products manufactured in the DC area and a growth in pattern-makers, seamstresses, bead-workers, and milliners. Once buyers have a reason to source in DC, we can call ourselves a true industry. There is work to be done, but it can happen in the backyard of the policy makers.
As the Regional Director Elect for the DC Chapter of Fashion Group International what do you think the organization’s place is, in the DC fashion story?
The Fashion Group International is a global, non-profit, professional organization with 5000 members in the fashion industry including apparel, accessories, beauty and home.The FGI mission is to be the pre-eminent authority on the business of fashion and design and to help its members become more effective in their careers. To do this, FGI provides insights on major trends in person, online and in print; access to business professionals and a gateway to the influence fashion plays in the marketplace. FGI is critical to the growth of fashion in DC because it connects members to the international network and puts DC on the map.
The DC Chapter is nearly 75 years old and has an impressive history. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a member since 2001. I can still remember calling the NY Headquarters back in 1999 when I was in grad school in London to ask for membership. When I came back to the States and started my career, I found a mentor who was heavily involved in FGI and still is today on a national level. She encouraged me to join and said “if you work for FGI, it will work for you.” Here I am 11 years later… I cannot be more honored to be the Regional Director Elect of such an illustrious organization.
What is the biggest myth or misconception that people have about fashion PR in DC? That it does not exist or that we do not know as much as our counterparts in New York or LA.
How would you describe your aesthetic in three words?