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Connolly at Portobello Market

Connolly at Portobello Market

Interview with Frank Akinsete

Discover Frank Akinsete, the man behind upcycling Connolly in Portobello Market at stall no.146 

Connolly at Portobello Market

You were one of the first to ever talk about the positive impact of recycling and upcycling with “Recyclamania”, how did you get started?

In 1989 I set SOULED OUT in Portobello Green Arcade in 1990. We didn’t have the financial resources to design from scratch or buy fabrics. I loved vintage, so we sourced what was called second hand clothing some damaged or offcuts of fabrics and restructured played about with ideas. My design partner was lady called Govella and we recycled clothing deconstructing and reconstructing any and everything, we seemed to strike a cord with the fashion crowd and all of a sudden we were part of “THE GRUNGE” movement. We coined the term “recylamania” and it took off. The label had a cult following with fashionistas and we just went with it. SEX DRUGS AND ROCK ROLL lol…….

As an Ambassador for Extinction Rebellion, you have worked on some amazing projects over the years; what has been your most impactful project to help raise awareness of the fashion industry's harmful environmental effects?

Working with Extinction rebellion after Spring 2019 on a Worldwide Photo Campaign my slogan was “Nuff Plastic Fashion Keep It Real”.

I love what they do as movement for the next generation. I’m part of XR.Boycott fashion but have publicly distanced myself from some of the radical elements of Extinction Rebellion. 

We love what you have done to bring exuberance and life into upcycling our pieces, can you describe your technique and tell us your inspiration?

Inspiration comes from my love people generally, I’m genuinely interested in everybody and that just makes me Happy. My palette in fashion is Blue which starred with my obsession with my Burmese Tom Cat “Rocky” a Blue Burmese cat. The collection in CONNOLLY is called “ROCKY” and that’s the name for my Upcycled line of clothing.

I work with blue since its like the Sky and goes through such a wide range of colours, its a beautiful spectrum. 
The connotations of "feeling Blue" and “the Blues” are interesting to me I’m always upbeat or asleep so it fascinates me. Its a blessing but I just don’t get down, I can only feel the blues through colour honestly. 

Portobello market has always been a part of the beating heart of London, what do you see that is exciting in the future?

I came to Portobello for the carnival with my parents in the Seventies and felt at home. I bought my fist flat there about 40 years ago so its in my soul.
The future is uncertain but exciting, the pandemic has decimated the market currently. Ever the optimist I hope that the traders that survive are those with interesting quality pieces. I love the tourists but I’m not sorry to see the stalls full of fridge magnets and I came to London t-shirts go.
The beauty of Portobello is the multicultural community and mix of classes being side by side, 45 years ago I came to this beautiful Bohemian village of Notting Hill.
The Pandemic has highlighted human vulnerability in all of, I think barriers have come down and there will more exciting collaborations. 

The isolation has made people realise the need for connectivity.

“Smile and Be Kind Life Is Short“ 

Frank's upcycled Connolly pieces will be at Portobello Market every Friday of September - Find them at Stall No. 146 (Outside Makan Restaurant).