If you don't know 'the Dukes of Peckham' already — London-raised, British-Ghanaian twins, Kevin and Karlon Bonsu — you're about to. Founders of the incredible Mission Statement Magazine (a biannual publication on art, fashion, and culture), the Flag Twins have also worked with the likes of Gucci, Prada and Fendi.
We first met the Twins over a cup of tea in London and have been inseparable ever since. It’s an organic partnership which sees the Flags hosting intimate dinners and events for us, working creatively with our team, and creating their own edit on our site featuring their favorite pieces. Now here they are to introduce themselves.
Harris Reed In Good Hands Beaded Gemstone Necklace
18ct Gold Plated, Multi Green Gemstone & Pearl
Missoma: So, talk us through your career so far.
Flag Twins: Our journey started in the fashion industry as models. Surrounded by artistic references and people, we began to create our identity — what creativity meant to us through our different outlets. Today we have built a range of collaborative platforms/companies such as MSM, FLAG INC & Saville Row Recordings; our journey has also taken us to DJing. Entering the jewelry space for us signifies the next chapter in this self-titled book we call ‘FLAGS LIFE’. Coming from Peckham, this is a child’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and we couldn’t be happier.
M: Where did the name ‘Flag Twins’ come from?
FT: When we were 15 our father passed away. During this stage of our life, we became very curious. Before we knew about manifestation, we would wander around London with £5 to our name (this usually afforded us two KFC snack boxes and a drink to share) and quite literally plot our route to stardom. We would walk around affluent areas, such as Chelsea, and let our minds run free with dreams and ideas. “That’s going to be our car one day,” we would say. Or “that’s going to be our house” as we walked past the big white houses of South Kensington.
Our two-hour ‘manifestation walk’ would usually take us past Embassy Row. These houses usually had flags on top of them so we knew that they must be important. When we began to travel all over the UK and abroad, our peers caught on to this and would say “you guys are really ‘flying the FLAG’ and travelling.” ‘Flag’ is about defying the status quo — entering spaces that were not built for you. We are unifying people under our ‘flag’, under our message and our values.
M: Do you feel like your twinship gives you an even more special relationship? What’re the dynamics like between you both?
FT: Most definitely. Twinship is a special relationship that I don't think we have even fully comprehended yet. We have only really come to terms recently as to why we are so blessed to have one another in our lives and it feels so good. The bond we have is amazing and reassuring. Knowing that you have someone checking in with you, but also checking you when your ego gets the better of you. In our relationship it's like a two-man canoe. Kevin is at the front, leading the engine, while Karl is at the back steering the boat.
This resonates so much in our day-to-day relationship. Kevin is the leader of minds making sure we are going towards our goal. Karl is the watchful eye making sure we are going in the right direction. All in all, we complement each other.
M: What was it like growing up in Peckham? Do you still feel a huge affinity with the area?
FT: Coming from Peckham, we’ve always been taught to be prepared for anything and to keep our heads up. These early lessons built our resilience and drive to be successful. Peckham is a melting pot of different characters and cultures which is why we have a huge affinity for our area. As the Dukes of Peckham, we see ourselves as guardians of the city. Peckham will always be our home and we will always do everything in our power to help the next generation and represent our borough.
M: There are a lot of dualities with you both: having yin-and-yang personalities, Karlon, from banker to creative; describing yourselves as ‘bad kids’, now working incredibly hard; being defined by both London and Ghanaian culture. How have these affected you?
FT: It’s interesting because people don't understand how similar and different we are. We have different opinions but share the same values.
M: We’ve loved seeing you styling our pieces. What’s your favorite thing about Missoma, and which designs do you find yourself reaching for on repeat?
FT: Our favorite thing about Missoma is the platform that the company has built for individuals like ourselves to authentically collaborate with. It's such a big force in the jewelry space, and we are just glad that a brand like Missoma were able to identify us as thought-leaders. We really love the Harris Reed collection, who doesn’t? The design speaks for itself, plus we love pearls!
M: You often blur the lines between masculine and feminine jewelry — could you talk us through your approach to gender-fluid styling?
FT: For us it comes down to being comfortable and knowing ourselves. We have never let a product or item define who we are. We always say it is you that's wearing the product not the product wearing you. With this mindset we have managed to transform the way in which we approach gender-fluid styling, wearing what we want to wear — not what we’ve been told is cool.
M: When and where do you feel most creative? And how do you get out of a creative slump?
FT: We feel the most creative when we’re in environments which allow for our creativity to naturally flow. In times of organized chaos, and in times of peace, day or night. One thing that remains constant is that we see everything as a source of inspiration. EVERYTHING. To get out of a creative slump is to free your mind.
M: How would you describe your style?
FT: Dress to feel.
M: What does self-expression mean to you?
FT: Be unapologetically you.
M: What’re you most excited for in the future?
FT: We’re excited to press the refresh button again and open another chapter. To be moguls (captains of industry) you have to have a few of those. Ask Bernad Arnault and he will probably tell you the same. You don't build an empire without changing floors once in a while. Remember, once you have achieved what you intended for, challenge yourself again. Don't be afraid of feeling small.