Elshadei Fantahun, 26, founder of Elegant Erkel from Suitland, Md., by way of Ethiopia, launched his handcrafted men’s neckwear line in March of 2016. One year later as a DC Fashion Incubator resident he had his fourth showcase with more on the books to come. He sat down with The Bridge at the DC Fashion Incubator New/Next Fashion Showcase at the Blind Whino on Friday, April 28 to discuss his start and where he plans to go.
Where did the fashion bug start for you?
Honestly it was kind of a surprise. My initial interest in fashion grew because I’ve always been in business and had to wear suits and ties a lot. One of the biggest problems was actually finding a tie that stood apart but worked with a lot of things. Years back I had the opportunity to think and create something different. I started off with alterations, gradually started to make ties and then from there created a whole brand around it.
The vision behind Elegant Erkel?
I did a lot of research. I am a do-it type of learner, so I watched a lot of YouTube videos, met a lot of people and did some in-person training. Finally, we officially launched in March 2016.
Our show is a mix of bold colors, very striking prints and color ways. Our whole objective was to mix professionalism with casual. I want to incorporate as many colors and varying styles that we can.
Experience with the DC Fashion Incubator?
I’m one of the members of the public program at the DC Fashion Incubator. The best way to explain it is that it’s just an opportunity to have a mentor. It’s a hub of different designers. It opens up doors to communicate and throw our ideas back and forth with people in fashion. That’s where a lot of the ideas actually came from for my show.
We’ve done DC Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week and this is our fourth show here tonight. We have another show coming up in July that we plan on doing with Kas Lifestyle who makes custom suits and another show in New York with details coming soon. We also will be launching our “humani-tie” collection as we get into philanthropy.
Find the line at www.eleganterkel.com Instagram: @NiceKnot