2&6 Journalist: Chris Kelly
It’s no secret that Amsterdam has more to offer the world of streetwear than just Daily Papers and Patta. However, as in many creative industries, the shadow cast by the giants that once started off as bold ideas in the basement of a student house, can often block the spotlight from reaching startups that deserve global attention. Perhaps it’s not intentional, at least not always, nonetheless the creativity and vibrancy that a growing number of Amsterdam fashion designers possess deserves to be brought out from beneath the big boys shadows.
The best example of an Amsterdam based streetwear brand deserving of immediate attention is, Jekkah. Beginning, in the back alley ginnels and shisha clouded snickets of London’s Camden Market, JEKKAH was born with the ambition of bringing the colours and spirit of, The Gambia to streetwear. Almost a decade later they have a thriving pop-up store in the Biljmer borough of Amsterdam that invites local musicians and business owners to use there store to bring their ideas to life.
LONDON X THE GAMBIA
JEKKAH is a word taken from the Wolof language, one of the predominant languages in the West African regions of Senegal and The Gambia. With everything that they do, whether it be in London or Amsterdam, Jekkah continue to support the creativity and independent businesses of The Gambia that they partner with to produce all of the materials used in there designs.
jekkah [je-kka], n. (1) to be beautiful or elegant, (2) to be well-dressed.
All of there designs are sourced, designed and manufactured in The Gambia, using the brilliance and ingenuity of local Gambian tailors. When you buy any item by JEKKAH you are actively supporting and making a difference to Gambian people.
JEKKAH IN AMSTERDAM
I first came across Jekkah at the Sunday Market in Westergasfabriek nestled between a Vegan Falafel stand ( who knew there were non vegan falafels?) and a discount bed sheet stand. Between the smell of the Tzatziki and the array of colours radiating of the Jekkah stall, mans though he was sipping a rio in Rio. It took me all of 5 seconds to pick up, pay and adorn a jiggy looking blue snapback. My personal inability to enjoy anything in the moment without thinking that i can somehow turn the current activity into a story meant i knew i had to speak to the bossman running the Jekkah operation.
After a few back n forth DM’s i headed to De Bilmner to check out the JEKKAH pop-up store & creative space and meet Addik, the creative director and business operator for JEKKAH IN Amsterdam
Arriving at Jekkah it was immediately noticeable how large the collection had become since first encountering them several years ago. Bomber Jackets, Duffle Coats & the inevitable array of masks made from a new series of print fabrics from the Gambia now adorn the shelves.
FILTER – CREATIVE SPACE
Jekkah has quickly made it self at home with the local community by inviting local artists, musicians or bands to come down to the shop and use there space in the heart of the town centre to showcase their creativity.
Conversation over coffee completed, Addik begins to explain how the natural assimilation between street dance, the energy of African dance culture and the vibrancy of Jekka’s streetwear makes for a beautiful partnership. Break dancers in De Biljmer have somewhat claimed Jekkah as one of their own.