Warning: This is not a Knock Off
Introducing the Knock Off brand, created by Daba Kora, is setting the stage for other creatives to express their selves in a very unique way! Below I interviewed Daba to discuss his successful clothing line, who he's inspired by, and where he sees himself and his brand later on down the road.
Charnell Webb - Where are you from? And how did growing up in that city shape the way you look at clothing design? Daba Kora - I am from West Africa a small country called The Gambia even though I was born in Philadelphia, PA I am strongly connected to my African heritage. Growing up in Philadelphia was very tough, violence and drugs flooded our neighborhoods and at a very young age you are encouraged to look to the streets for guidance and support. I was not privileged enough to afford the latest sneakers or the newest trendy outfits. I was forced to work with what I had, hand me downs from my older cousins were literally what helped me stay up to date even though I was 14 years old 5’7 in height wearing a XL State Property Jacket it was just the fact that it was a State Prop. Philadelphia helped me realize no matter your circumstance you could be accepted as long as you stayed fresh, at an early age I realized you have to turn your struggle into fashion.
CW - What is the meaning behind your brand? DK - The meaning behind KORA (Knock Off Rich Apparel)
"Your Struggle Is Fashion!"
KORA is more then a brand, it was curated as a motivational tool to help individuals overcome and defeat every obstacle that life brings. KORA was made to educate consumers that neither designer labels nor so called "Rich Apparel" defines fashion. The true definition of a fashion statement is partially broadcasting your struggles or current mood through the execution of your outfit. We now live in a time where you can be thrifty and look luxurious while living within your means. Lets support people's struggles and embrace individual hustles. The Iconic F's in the logo face each other to symbolize one facing their fears and challenging themselves daily to defeat the odds. KORA encourages staying true to self, never imitate, overcome & defeat. Remember anything can be Knocked OFF.
CW - Was clothing design always your goal when you were younger? DK - I did not always aspire to be a designer. As I entered my freshman year in college 2010 I realized Penn State Main was a mini fashion show and I would fall behind if I did not stay up to date. I could not afford Abercrombie, Polo, or Nike. I decided in order to stay fresh I would have to be creative, I decided to take my last $300 invest in a printer, ink, transfer paper and Gilda’s T-shirt’s and Sweatshirts. I thought myself how to heat press with a iron and after plenty of mishaps I created my first shirt with the design “Purple Plane Clothing” created by a close friend of mine named Sabir Hall. I also made T-shirts with funny phrases and slogans, which caught the attention of many students who inquired about the brand. I never intended on making money from this it was something I needed to do to stay afloat.
CW - Who is one person that you look up to in the designer world? DK - The one designer I look up to in the fashion world is Pharrell Williams. He was the first designer I knew of that shared the same race as me getting collaborative deals with Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Reebok. He also remained true to himself and chose to set the trends instead of follow them.
CW - What do you want people to take away from your brand? DK - If it were one thing I would want people to take away from my brand is individuality. Everyone is there own person, no one has it better than the other. I want people to feel unique in my pieces and to realize even though there may be multiple pieces available not one person is wearing it like you, no one made the same sacrifices as you to obtain this piece. I never did this for money, it was always the love. I design all my pieces with love, and I love all of my supporters. Thank you.
CW - Where do you want to see your brand go in the next 5 years? DK - In the next 5 years I would love to see Knock Off emerging into a staple brand in the fashion world. 2020 will mark 10 years for me in the clothing world and I feel like I am just now scratching the surface. I planted my seeds, strengthening my roots and hopefully the next 5 years I will watch Knock Off begin to blossom into a household name and become recognized as one of the dopest brands in fashion. Also I would like to highlight my Fall Collection of Jackets and Cut & Sew pieces. This is my first time delivering a collection like this, I designed every piece by hand and worked with a manufacturer to bring every piece to life.
Dinner Land Network - Charnell Webb