About us

Our Story

About Us

Our Story

About Us

Our Story


Akaso is a Belgian label and the brainchild of Philippe Vertriest, father of two Ethiopian born daughters and great believer in Africa's creative talent. From the encounter with a book on African body painting art, he developed the Akaso collaborative design concept, uniting the Kara tribe in Ethiopia with the resident Belgian Akaso designers. 

The Kara people in Ethiopia are one of Africa's most authentic tribal people and renown for their abstract body painting art: a fascinating act of transformation, using the skin as a canvas and the earth as a palette. 

Every single print in the Akaso collection is the exact reproduction of a body painting motif created by a Kara tribe artist on their face and body. Akaso pays each artist as a Western freelance designer. The Kara invests these proceeds in sustainable projects improving the livelihood of the entire Kara tribe community.

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AKASO Meaning

Akaso comes from the Italian 'a caso' meaning 'by coincidence', reflecting the many coincidences that Philippe encountered on his route that brought him to the Akaso co-creation vision.  'There is no coincidence in this life - just follow your intuition, however bold the path may be'.

About our Founder

Akaso founder Philippe Vertriest is also the creative director and designer of the label. As a  young child and adult Philippe developed his artistic vein in the Art Academy.   

He holds a degree in Finance and International Affairs and was trained as a diplomat, speaking six languages.  

Coincidence took Philippe from the diplomatic career path to the fashion industry, where he initiated as commercial director and subsequently occupied product design roles for 15 years for international Belgian labels in accessories and lingerie. Labels famous for their immaculate quality, it is where Philippe developed an eye for detail. 

With 20 years of experience in his pocket, he founded Akaso in 2014.

Sustainable Sourcing

The entire Akaso collection is manufactured in Belgium and Europe using only natural European materials such as Tencel, baby alpaca, fine merinos wool and calf leather from Tuscany for the handbags.

Visiting the Kara

Located in south west Ethiopia, the Omo Valley is a spectacularly beautiful and diverse landscape. The area is a melting pot of cultures and communities and represents some of the greatest genetic variance on the continent.  The Omo River flows along the valley floor on the last leg of its journey to Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world. The river plays an essential part in the lives of local communities and serves as an umbilical cord for Lake Turkana. Many describe the Omo as being the birthplace of mankind. It’s not hard to see why.