MEET THE DESIGNER…. Patrice Kouadio, TRAVEL
The El Fenn boutique is home to a new generation of African talent in fashion, home and beyond. Meet Patrice Kouadio, founder of TRAVEL.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 31 and from Abidjan, which is the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. I moved to Marrakech to do a master’s degree in marketing and then worked for MACAAL Museum. I’ve also got a background in modelling, photography and visual art. Growing up, my uncle was a weaver who made a traditional fabric called le pagne Baoulé so I saw him sell it in the market. All those things came together when I got to Marrakech and felt inspired to start my own business.
What inspires you?
I think of all the pieces in my collection as ‘postcards’ about travel. Once, people went abroad and sent home picture postcards about their trips. Now they buy clothes in the places they travel to and take them back home. Those clothes tell a story and a shirt can represent your personality because clothes can reflect who we are. So I want my pieces to reflect lots of different elements of travel to allow people to express themselves.
What’s unique about your clothes?
I haven’t studied architecture formally but it’s a passion for me. So from the start, I wanted to mix fashion with architecture because there’s a chemistry between the two for me. The pockets on TRAVEL pieces for instance are inspired by the geometric shapes I saw all over mosques and traditional buildings when I first got here. It took months to work out how to incorporate those shapes into my designs but now they’re a signature element on my shirts, trousers, kaftans and bags.
How do you produce your collection?
Currently, I work with three tailors here in Marrakech. I also buy all the fabrics here – usually remnants from luxury European brands. It feels eco responsible to use leftover stock that would otherwise go to waste and it’s important to me to be responsible towards the environment. Ultimately, I’d like to open my own atelier and bring everything together in one place.
And what are your future plans?
For me, it’s all about expanding this idea of travel because it permits you to know yourself. I want to celebrate that beautiful feeling. I’ve started by integrating travel with fashion. But in the future I’d like the brand to extend to creating experiences, incorporating more countries. I have so many plans.
Pop into the boutique at El Fenn and take a piece home with you. A beautiful reminder of your time in Marrakech. The boutique is open 11am-8pm every day.