Editorial - September 12, 2022

For The Culture: Interview with the founder of French Deal

Elodie Prochet

Marketing Manager France. Video Game Explorer.

Translation of the original article here.

At the crossroads of Africa, Hip-Hop and Fashion, the French Deal House has been offering “original and authentic pieces” for men and women for 10 years. “Here, everything is a story of roots” and the career of its founder and creative director, Steeven Kodjia, is the ultimate proof.

Steeven Kodjia, Founder of the house Maison French Deal – Credits : @stevehappi_ on Instagram

From his beginnings in Hip-Hop to the genesis of French Deal, through his cosmopolitan influences and his deep love for Africa, the self-taught man behind the menswear brand tells us his story tinged with passion, colour, perseverance and commitment!

Herbby : What is your Hip-Hop first memory?

Steeven Kodjia: The movie Break Street 84 and then the French TV show H.I.P. H.O.P. by Sidney.  In Break Street 84, dancers Ozone and Turbo slapped me in the face! It was really this film that opened the door to Hip-Hop for me.

H: In what ways has this multidisciplinary culture helped you in your career?

SK: I embraced all the elements of Hip-Hop Culture very early on and it gave me a lot of personal, artistic, and emotional benefits. Afterward, I chose the art of dance, which I think is one of the most complete arts in terms of body expression. The vibrations you can feel when you dance are incredible.


H : Comment est née la Maison French Deal ?

H: How was the French Deal House born?

SK: The project started from a pure street business at the time of the emergence of Hip-Hop brands: Sean John, Rocawear, etc. I used to buy the products from New York-based wholesalers and sell them in France. One thing led to another and I became passionate about the business. It sharpened my eye and everything I discovered on the street in France and in New York made me dream and pushed me to think bigger. So I decided to do my bit by creating my own brand. The name French Deal refers to my background: wholesalers in the US called me “Frenchie” and in France, I wasn’t dealing drugs but I was dealing style.

On set with Steeven Kodjia, Founder of the house French Deal -Photo credit : @stevehappi_ on Instagram

H: Can you tell us about the 3 cultures highlighted through this menswear brand?

SK: The base is the African culture, its traditions, heritage and craftsmanship. Then there is the Hip-Hop arm which was developed by the African diaspora on American soil. And we finish with the culture of fashion and luxury, for the elegance and expertise of the French.



H: Can you introduce us to the French Deal ?

SK: La Maison offers clothes and accessories for men and women but it goes further than that. French Deal is a state of mind, a commitment and above all, it is a celebration of African culture through the eyes of a child of the diaspora who was born and raised outside of his natural environment and who has used all his influences to design his brand.

On set with Steeven Kodjia, Founder of the house French Deal – Credit : @stevehappi_ on Instagram

H: I strongly appreciate the artistic direction of your campaigns which value the label’s African heritage in an authentic and committed way. Tell us a little about the process of creating your collections and your fashion films.

SK: The process varies from one collection to another. For the previous collection, Volume 4, I was inspired by a traditional fabric from the Ivory Coast to develop the whole storytelling that is linked to my own people on my mother’s side, the Baule people. The next collection, The Power Is Yours, was born following the assassination of George Floyd. The concept started with a beret in reference to the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, which had appropriated this accessory at the time. I also wanted to pay homage to a leader of the African continent, namely Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana as an independent country.

In terms of our campaigns, I have been working with the photographer, director and video artist Urivaldo Lopes since the beginning. We share a common passion for Africa. I’ll tell him the vision of my collections and what I want to portray, then we’ll exchange ideas, create and build together!

Davido wearing a Baoulé outfit designed by French Deal, on the cover of Slimi magazine via @frenchdealofficial on Instagram

H: Sticking with your campaigns, French Deal won “Best Fashion 2019” for your Fashion Film Volume 4 – The Odyssey of the Ba-Wouli People and your latest production The Power Is Yours. won two awards at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival ceremony, in the “Best Cast Ensemble” and “Best Editing” categories! Both contents were made in Africa, specifically in Ghana and Ivory Coast. How are these initiatives received locally? Do you have a striking anecdote to share about these experiences?
SK: The reaction has been really positive, the collaborations with the local production companies are going well and there is a real sense of pride from the local stakeholders once they see the end result. Since we didn’t grow up there, we bring them a new vision of what they already know and I think they are proud of the way we promote Africa through our content. Knowing that Urivaldo Lopes and I operate with love and depth, with the aim of showing an authentic and positive image of the continent.

For the anecdote, when I asked my mother to do the voice-over for the film Volume 4 – L’odyssée du Peuple Ba-Wouli, she was hesitant, she didn’t want to record in a studio. In the end, she accepted, we went to the studio in Abidjan, she started, she got into it and after the third take, she started to play the vocalist! (laughs) She was saying: “It’s good, it’s in the box! Add this, change that…” It was so fun.

Steeven Kodjia, Founder of the House French Deal – Photo credit: @stevehappi_ on Instagram

H: Another key element of the label is the focus on black icons such as Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba, Muhammad Ali and more recently Kwame Nkrumah and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Why is it important for you to share their story through French Deal?

SK: As an artist, we have this power to express things through our art and I’ve always been told: to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve come from. My career path and my brand have always made me question why and I think it’s important to delve into your history in order to develop yourself from a personal point of view. So if I talk about Africa and Black Culture in what I do, I am obliged to share the story of these leaders and pay tribute to them because it is up to us to tell our story.

H: What is your vision for French Deal?

SK: My vision is to bring the engagement and messages conveyed through the French Deal House to the African diaspora and beyond.

Symbolic photo from The Power Is Yours. inspired by the Black Panther Party via @frenchdealofficial on Instagram

H: What can we expect from French Deal in the coming months?

SK: A new collection, our participation in the International Fashion Film Festival in La Jolla at the end of July in the US and this year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary so there will be a lot of surprises coming up in the next few months…

 THE POWER newspaper by French Deal, about The Power Is Yours. collection – Photo credit: @stevehappi_ on Instagram