Kaak Society

Born in a House of Art

Accessories tell stories. That’s why you don’t use the same accessories all the time. You chose what story you want to tell, and you chose what time to tell it. Ibe Sow, the brain, heart and hands behind Kaak Society, knows this better than most. That’s why his accessories tell the most captivating stories.

Published 14/01/2020

SKEWED Fashion

RU

How come you became an artisan ?

IS

I was born in a house of art. My father was an artist so I’m very used to people creating with their hands. I used to trip on instruments and tools when I was little. I was trained in woodworking and then switched to iron welding. But soon it was obvious that my profound love was accessories. My family was mouride, that’s the umbrella over the religious sect of Baye Fall, and I became a Kaak, a section of the Baye Fall. Accessories are a big part of our culture.

RU

Didn’t you want to rebel against your parents ?

IS

No, if anything, I pushed the curiosity even further. I have always had a great interest in culture, tradition, rituals, ceremonies and especially the artistic aspects of the ceremony. I have always been surrounded by art, be it music or dance or accessories. It is a deep interest in art that has a foundation in culture or ceremonies or identity.

RU

Other than tradition, what’s the inspiration for your bags ?

IS

I get inspiration from my surroundings, from what’s happening in the now. I look around and translate the reality into objects you can use. Some days ago, our electrical iron blew up, so we had to use our old traditional iron with charcoals in it. And I had forgotten what a beautiful object that was. So, this bag I’m working on now is inspired by an old traditional iron. And now, as we are speaking, I’m looking at your camera. Maybe my next bag will be inspired by a camera?

RU

How much is mapped out beforehand ?

IS

I’d say maybe 90%. I have a vision in my head before I start and I know how the material will answer, because I’m so used to it. But I’m open to life happening or someone having an opinion. Sometimes someone else from Muus du Tux walk in and a conversation occurover the bag and it changes it.

RU

Didn’t you want to rebel against your parents ?

IS

No, if anything, I pushed the curiosity even further. I have always had a great interest in culture, tradition, rituals, ceremonies and especially the artistic aspects of the ceremony. I have always been surrounded by art, be it music or dance or accessories. It is a deep interest in art that has a foundation in culture or ceremonies or identity.

«I’m looking at your camera. Maybe my next bag will be inspired by a camera.»

RU

This one, for example, is obviously based on an egg container. How did that come about ?

IS

One night I woke around 4AM because I heard some Baye Fall-chanting in my neighborhood, I walked over to witness and listen to the ceremonies. When I was walking home, I saw some egg containers in the trash. I started thinking, maybe I should do something with an egg container? Then, when I turned the corner, suddenly there was stacks and stacks of egg containers.  I knew it was a sign. So, I took one of them home and started to speak to it, what will happen to you? And this happened. It’s named after the man who makes the best eggs in my neighborhood. So, the name of the bag is Ge.

RU

What’s a typical day in the life of Ibe ?

IS

If we’re talking about Kaak Society, it’s fairly easy. I finish one bag, come up with the idea for another one. I put up my tools and the material, making sure my idea will work, and then I start. I work fast. But apart from that I have a lot of social work. So, I live my life between creativity and society.

RU

Aren’t you worried to get swallowed up by the monster that is the fashion industry ?

IS

No. The culture and tradition that I draw inspiration from is way older and bigger than any brand or anything. It’s a culture and a mindset. That is not something that will live or die by trends.

RU

Are they more than accessories ?

IS

All accessories are more than accessories. They are pieces of art, and art is a statement you share. And the bags are bold, so they are bold statements. Some see the bags and think I’m crazy but others can see that they’re statements about the country and my specific subculture.