Quiet as it may be kept, the next wave in fashion is coming directly from the Motherland. For centuries Africans have been perfecting craftsmanship, innovative design and duality in textile use.
It’s no wonder that within the last ten years Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, Cape Town and Johannesburg have hosted their own fashion weeks. And while traditional constructs of ankara and wax print have limited the scope by which many view “African fashion”, young talent from all over the globe are actively working to change this.
In Ghana specifically there’s a huge sustainable fashion industry, where brands are opening up small production shops to make their goods — simultaneously paying workers fair wages. The cherry on top is that a lot of these brands are using recyclables to ethically produce their apparel and accessories.
The future is hopeful. And on that positive note, check out these 13 Ghanaian designers who are making waves in the fashion industry.
KRISTIN & KOFI ESSEL
Beyoncé, Solange and La La Anthony are fans of NYC-based jewelry brand, Third Crown. Husband and wife duo, Kristin and Kofi Essel started the brand after working in fashion for David Yurman, Eddie Borgo and Reed Krakoff. Their clean lines and overall simplicity in design is inspired by architecture.
At the forefront of ethical fashion is Abrima, a former Bottega Veneta executive who started Studio 189 with her best friend, Rosario Dawson, after a trip with V-Day throughout the continent. The pair produce all their apparel in Ghana made from recycled glass jewelry, batik cotton and indigo-dyed separates.
NANA & AFUA DABANKA
These Ghanaian sisters created their sandal line, MONAA after finding inspiration from their father’s traditional handmade leather slippers and mother’s silk kente outfits. They combine their global sensibilities — having lived in three continents — to inform the overall look and feel of their eclectic brand.
JASON JERMAINE ASIEDU
One designer who knows how to dress a woman with curves and attitude, is Jason Asiedu of Jermaine Bleu. This young talent is also business-savvy working with fashion influencers like Kevin Nkrumah and Celeste van Joost to get his name out to the masses.
NANA K. BRENU
Educated at Parsons School of Design in New York City and Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Nana brings a refreshing perspective to traditionally adinkra-symbol heavy West African fashion with her brand, 1981. Known for playing with structure and layers, 1981’s presented at Africa Fashion International Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2014.
One of eight children, Akosua named her luxury handbag label after herself and her brothers and sisters. AAKS stands for Akosua’s initials with an added “S” for “siblings.” Vibrant in contrasting hand-dyed raffia colors, the up-and-coming designer is influenced by contemporary African architecture and art.
The Ghanaian-Italian owner of Elle Lokko not only manages her concept shop in an emerging art community of Accra, but she has an in-house collection as well.The store first opened solely selling graphic t-shirts, but it’s evolved into jewelry made from recycled glass, in addition to apparel and accessories from other talent of the diaspora.
ARABA SAMA FLETCHER
A master of textiles, designer Sama touts this skill in all her work. Her most recent collection combined crepe, neoprene and faux leather. Sama studied fashion design at Radford University College in Accra before launching her youthful eponymous brand.
Raffia, the contemporary womenswear brand started by Madonna, is based in the Upper East region of Ghana. Using the textile practice of batakari that resembles tweed is what sets this femininely chic brand apart from the rest.
HASSAN ALFAZIZ IDDRISS
Ethical and edgy, Hazza is a unisex fashion line gaining attention for its wearable street style garments. Hassan’s most recent utilitarian-inspired collection is named Ashasie which means “the beginning” in the Ghanaian language of Twi. In addition to creating his own collection, Hassan also styles for other design talent.
As the designer behind Garypie, Usman celebrates Savile Row-level tailored garments collection-after-collection. For SS16, Garypie debuted womenswear with the same attention to detail and love of pin stripes as reflected in his previous work.
This luxury clothing designer launched Bello Edu to showcase her love of classically feminine designs in 2008. Her most recent collection, filled with Carolina Herrera-esque decadent satin ruffles, was presented at Ghana Fashion and Design Week last October.
Launched in 2008, Ohema Ohene means “Queen King” in the Ghanaian language of Twi. The founder Abenaa uses cotton wax print for sporty clothing, shoes and accessories.