#FellowshipSpotlight | The Regal Group
REGAL GROUP | @RegalClothes
Quality fabric, impeccable craftsmanship, and modern silhouettes are all hallmarks of The Regal Group. Creating clothing inspired by their West African roots, founders Akos Regal, Ola Faleye, and Stacey Dice offer high-quality fashion garments their customers can wear with pride.
The team at Regal Group met with us at Motor House, a performance venue and cafe in Baltimore's Station North neighborhood.
So tell us, what is Regal Group?
Stacey Dice: We are a partnership of clothing and accessory designers whose focus is on using authentic African materials. The idea is to promote the African diaspora through fashion. Our work ranges from ready-to-wear to bespoke clothing to accessories and each team member has their own specialty: I work in jewelry and accessories.
Ola Faleye: I do custom works.
Akos Regal: And I work with ready-to-wear contemporary pieces.
How did you all come together in this creative journey?
Stacey: We are a relatively new group that came into collaboration actually through the BCAN fellowship program. Of course, we had all known each other previously and had partnered on projects along the way so a more official partnership seemed inevitable. But the program was a catalyst for us working as an official team.
Now that you're a team, where do you all feel you're at and where would you like to see yourself in the next few years?
Akos: Well, we are very young as a group so we are still figuring out exactly what that means for us as a team and individually. We've discussed doing several projects on an annual basis.
Stacey: For the three of us, we want to see the Regal Group as being the go-to for modern Afro-centric wear and accessories in Baltimore, to make these designs and textiles ubiquitous and part of the everyday.
What inspired each of you in your individual practices?
Stacey: Years ago, I had a hard time finding jewelry that I felt suited me. I knew I had some crafty inclinations so eventually, I decided to try my hand at creating pieces I would like better. I love African textiles and natural materials like gemstones, leather, and I incorporate them into my design. It started as a hobby. Then other people started to take notice and the project became a small business endeavor as well. I actually had my first showing at my office. I was asked to bring in some of my work and I thought, "Why not?" So I lugged my things in, set up a little display, and actually made a good amount of money! I was like, "Oh! This might be a thing! Let me try it!"
Ola: I come from a family of tailors. My grandmother was a tailor and we grew up around her, learning her craft. But I didn't take it seriously until a friend of mine had an event and wanted us to be a part of it. It was a mini fashion show. And it was very successful. Everyone wanted a part of it! And the fact that you can create things from scratch, you can dream along with a person and give them exactly what they want, that's very satisfying.
Akos: My inspiration came from growing up in different cultures. I was born in Ghana but raised in French Canada, Montreal and Paris. Two fashion capitals. I always loved to see people there walking around with haute couture and elegant fashions. My mother would wear these styles but she would always wear them with our beautiful prints. French women would even come to my mother to dress them in our prints. Because the fabric speaks. Every fabric has a name, has a meaning, has a story. I want people to know that, to use that.
Akos: This is where we are! The city is really promoting its makers. There are so many maker spaces and opportunities for people to build something upon their natural talents. Baltimore is the right place and we're here at the right time. I tell people I actually grew up in Baltimore. My eyes opened to so many opportunities and I definitely appreciate that.
Ola: As strange as it might sound, Baltimore to me is now home. So the question would be, "Why not Baltimore?" There's a feeling in Baltimore. I can't explain it, really. But it's... Baltimore is kind of addicting. I think that's the simplest way to put it. Baltimore supports its own and you can see the love and feel the love. It also feels like Baltimore is going through a kind of rebirth, a renaissance, and this seems like the best time to plug into it.
Stacey: Baltimore has been home since middle school. It is a crafty city, resourceful, hard-working, and when Baltimore loves you, they LOVE you and they will come to find you and stand for you. Where else would I go? Why would I start anywhere else?