Mala is a 24 year old guy of Ghanaian origin who is born and raised in Amsterdam. From a very young age, Mala had big dreams. He started working at footwear shop Filling Pieces, where he gained experience and confidence. At a certain point Mala decided to be bold. In 2016 he started his own brand: ‘Secluded’. 

I can compare myself very well with anime characters, while I grew up with series like Naruto, Bleach and Hunter x Hunter. As a child, you have the feeling that you can explore everything. Just like in Pokémon for instance. Everyone is always on tour to explode new Pokémons, new gyms, new areas. I was curious kid myself. I always wanted to explore and investigate.

I started my brand ‘Secluded’ in 2016, about two years ago. My childhood definitely influenced the concept of my brand. It’s actually very metaforical, because what happens in Mangas also happens in real life. The difference is that in real life, me and my homies are the crew. We are also exploring.

At a certain point I decided I wanted to make workwear for the explorer in general. The vision in my head of what I wanted was not clear yet, because the view I started to create on explorers in my clothes was also a new view for me. It was really challenging and I kept asking myself: ”How am I going to translate this concept into clothing?”. This pushed and inspired me to do something new, and out of the box.

The line between realism and fantasy is a very thin line. Everyone has their own interpretation. And it is the interpretation that raises many questions. Sometimes it can even give you new directions.

The ‘Secluded’ logo means in Chinese, you. It’s a reference to the consumers of the brand. ‘Secluded’ also means: a place hidden and private. It’s one of my philosophies, but also some sort of motive. I try to build self awareness for the real you and your soul. Therefore, I’d rather call ‘Secluded’ a concept than a brand.

There are many facets. You can choose to do a study or you can start with name, the logo or even a certain product you want to make. It’s all up to you. The most important thing is to just do it. I started with a certain product: dungarees. It fitted the people I wanted to design a uniform for – the explorers – perfectly. I thought it was dope, because it has a certain nostalgia and everyone knows the piece: your mother, father and even your grandfather and grandmother. Therefore I wanted to start with the dungarees. From that viewpoint I wanted to expand: with different fabrics for instance.

I started to change the design of the classic dungarees a while ago, but I have not released it yet. I love the classic dungarees, because they are Multifunctional and you can wear them the way you want to. You can wear it with one strap down, or maybe even both straps down.
Whatever feels right for you. I think this functionality and the interaction with the people I am designing for gives the brand more value.

Many people look up to celebrities, because they have money and their lives look better than yours. But who really inspire me are the people surrounding me and the people I got to know. I don’t do Idols, but everyone can inspire me and teach me things.

I really believe everyone is unique and inspiring. When I was younger I looked up to my mother and brother. Because they always worked really hard. It was the dedication that inspired me.

Everything is distinctive, because I think I am allround. I started with spinning, but I always knew that I wanted to do ‘Secluded’. I designed shoes for Filling Pieces and learned very many new things in another lane.

I’ve done a couple of studies, but no design studies. I am not the best drawer either. In the beginning, when I started an internship at Filling Pieces, I didn’t even know how to work with Illustrator and Photoshop. I had to learn it myself by doing it. It puts some sort of pressure on you, because you have to prove yourself. Now I can almost elaborate everything I want. When you really want something, you have to take steps to get there. It just depends on how dedicated you are. I learned a lot in my eight years at Filling Pieces.

Also, don’t forget your connections. Be true to yourself, but above all to the people surrounding you, the people that inspire you. Maybe you’re too afraid to ask something or to give compliments. But just start that conversation. In the end, that will be appreciated. When you loosen up, you can ask for tips. And I am sure most people will help you once you’ve showed initiative. The current generation in Amsterdam is very open-minded to everyone. Don’t be insecure, get off the couch, go outside and explore. That’s how we’ve all learned it. Just stay curious and eager to learn and follow your own path.

I did four studies in 2 years, but it was not my path to walk. There are actually three types of learning. You can learn through education, life and your job, or company. In a cooperative world, there are rules you have to follow. But, life is broad. It’s a mental game. It’s unpredictable and you can influence it youself.

I see it more as a chapter and manifestation on planet earth, I intend keeping the brand close to me as long as I can though. It originated from my childhood fantasies and I truly believe in the concept. With the next collection I aim to go international and I want to collaborate with more stores.