Keith Henning and Jody Paulsen – collectively known as AKJP, have been on the lips of many South Africans of late. Known for their bold colour selection and graphic prints, the two designers collaborate on fashion label AKJP to bring the fashion-savvy South African a brand that offers unisex clothing and accessories with an emphasis on comfort and quality.
Keith Henning, an Industrial and Furniture graduate, founded the label in 2012 and named it after his grandfather. In the same year, Keith debuted at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Cape Town, and following his success, decided to open the first Adriaan Kuiters retail outlet on Kloof Street – one of Cape Town’s fashion hubs.
Soon after Jody Paulsen jumped on board, and the two artists have since showcased their artistic ability at a number of high-end fashion runways – the latest being South African Menswear Week.
WW: How did you come to work together?
Jody: Keith and I decided to work together after the success of our first collaboration. We did not really think about it too much, we just continued working together because it felt right.
Keith: When we met, Jody was like my muse. He is super fun and exciting. His obsession with fashion keeps me alive and inspired. I love working with him.
WW: How would you describe your style?
Keith: Black, white and minimal.
Jody: I usually wear jeans, track pants or baggy shorts with sneakers and a jumper or T-shirt. Something I can move around in in my studio. I like anything that feels like pyjamas.
WW: You recently showed your AW16 collection on the SA Menswear Week runway. How was the experience?
Jody: It was a bit tricky doing all the womenswear in a week but it all worked out in the end. The team at SAMW did their best and I’m sure that the event will evolve over time.
WW: How did you go about choosing the materials you worked with?
Keith: We always like to use good quality fabric as it produces the best outcome and longevity. We love silk! On this collection, we created our own fabrics like the jacquard and the appliqué garments. The textiles were designed through collages we handmade in studio. We translated our collages into a digital format to produce printed fabrics and jacquard woven at a local fabric mill. The appliquéd pieces where cut and hand-stitched in the studio.
WW: Why use Georgina Gratrix’s art as a reference in your work?
Jody: I think that Georgina has a very iconic look about her and I have always loved her work. Referencing her work was not a very calculated decision – it just happened because I have been exposed to her work throughout our friendship. Georgina has a captivating and effortlessly original spirit. She embodies the mood I was to create with this