“Africa hasn’t been looked at as inspiration for beauty,” says Ghanaian fashion designer Akosua Afriyie-Kumi in this interview with Design Indaba in London. This is changing now, she says, especially among high-end fashion designers.
Afriyie-Kumi’s own exuberant aesthetic, under her Accra-based label AAKS, draws on the colours of her country’s landscape and the patterns and resourceful lives of its local people. “I use different materials and create something new out of what we have in Ghana, making it modern,” she says of her raffia bags hand-woven by local women. Read our African Report about the designer here.
Her bags, although contemporary in style, are the more traditional side of her brand. They encapsulate her core aesthetic, she says, which combines quality, craftsmanship and authenticity in contemporary African-inspired designs.
The Kingston University graduate is currently working on her own print designs, which she describes as a “new kind of African print”. Her clothing range, in which the prints appear, uses an edgy but streamlined, commercially oriented approach.
Afriyie-Kumi showcased her bags and clothing at the “Africa on the Catwalk” fashion show that was part of the recent Africa Utopia festival at London’s South Bank Centre. The recently launched raffia bags were also included in ethical design brand Shake the Dust’s Africa Calling exhibition at the festival and in its pop-up shop on Columbia Road in London’s East End.
“African heritage plays a huge role in my work. It’s time for African fashion to really shine and show our culture.”