UNconventional: Tega Akinola

UNconventional: Tega Akinola

Learn how Tega Akinola, a spirited final-year college student is spicing up her wardrobe using just old, faulty cables!

UNconventional by FTC is a series exploring creators, designers and artists expressing unique, thought-provoking perspectives of socio-cultural and global significance through their craft. These creators stray away from the conventions and norms of everyday ideas and give them a new meaning through their otherworldly creativity.

Upcycled fashion is the newest buzzword and has come a long way since its birth. It involves repurposing leftover fabric or recycled materials and morphing them into new garments and accessories. With upcycling becoming a viable way to practice sustainability, innovation in this arena is brimming with up-and-comers like Tega Akinola, a final year student who has a unique take on upcycled fashion.

Her designing gene comes from her creative family with her father being a graphic designer and her mother, a seamstress who always encouraged her to design clothes. She really got into designing only a few years back where she would put together different outfits and upload them on Instagram. A project created out of boredom and an unexpected epiphany helped her garner over 35,000 followers on Instagram.

In an interview with Elle, she talked about how the idea to use cables struck her during the first lockdown that occurred in the UK due to which she had to move back. It was while she was cleaning her room and something conspired in her head as she came across old cables.

“One day, I was cleaning out my room and found a bag of faulty cables that my family had accumulated. At first, I was going to throw them out, but inspiration struck when the USB connection reminded me of the ankle fastener of a shoe. That was the foundation for the idea. The next day, I bought a heel with a silhouette similar to that USB and then completed the design with the other wires.”
Tega Akinalo via Elle

But cables aren’t the only thing in her arsenal. One glance at her Instagram page and you’ll see that her creativity flows much deeper. Other than the footwear created by discarded cables, she has upcycled items like a bucket hat out as well (which she considers her most prized possession). More of her creations include a pair of heels using old Nike socks and even a pair of Air Force 1s, all made out of wasting-away charging cables. She also sells mules, slingbacks and stiletto mules on the APOC website, all wrapped up in cables.

She also works her magic on other products such as her famous top handle bags, that are reworked and re-upholstered with Patagonia and Nike fleece textiles which are also sold on her website in different color schemes.

Upcycling to her is a means of turning old things anew by first deconstructing and reconstructing it. She talks about how she likes to reuse and recycle as much as she can, mainly being a college student who does not necessarily have the money to always buy new things. So, she took to upcycling as a chance to spice up her wardrobe. Going further, she aims to not only be innovative but also sustainable and environmentally conscious.

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