GROWING UP IN the North End, Emeka Alams gravitated toward the hip-hop and indie rock music that had the best visual components. After developing a design language based, in part, on time spent in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and New York, he came home and began creating album artwork, T-shirts, and tour merchandise for local bands. Eventually international acts took notice, too—Big Time international acts such as legendary Nigerian Afrobeat inventor Fela Kuti, and M.I.A., the electropop-rap megastar from the UK. Now, the sometime Seattleite, sometime New Yorker translates musical culture and African history to the graphic sportswear and accessories in his clothing line, Gold Coast Trading Company.
Personal style in three words Simple, textured, lumberjack.
The designer’s uniform I actually never wear my own line. This jacket is vintage, from an old Northwest brand, and I got the button-up in Madrid. It breathes really nicely and is great year-round. Simple suits me best.
Musical muses I play the same few songs over and over and over when I’m working on a collection. For this current season’s looks I listened to old Ghanaian and Nigerian guitar music, Brooklyn rapper and producer Theophilus London, and a crazy amount of Vampire Weekend. I had avoided that band for so long, but their blend of New York and West African indie pop is so smartly crafted. It definitely helped set the tone for that project.
Graphic change With the spring release, the graphics on my prints reference the Soweto Youth Riots of 1976—not to display the horror or the negativity, but to highlight the change it helped effect in South Africa. My summer release is a collaboration with the Malawian band the Very Best. They really embody the beauty, kindness, love, and fun of Africa, so the colors are bright and warm.
Dream clients I’d love the South African band BLK JKS to rock some of my stuff, and I’m a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain. He might be the coolest dude ever! This season’s collection will be at Opening Ceremony in New York and some small shops in Spain and France. So far, no one here in Seattle has picked it up.