A Mix of Bright Hues and Patterns Creates a Dynamic Landscape in Ghana
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Located in West Africa and bordered by the Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana has a rich history and style. Once known as the Gold Coast, the country has gone on to become one of the most stable nations in West Africa, which has left a lot of room for self expression - especially in fashion.
"A simple T-shirt and jeans aren't enough for the average Ghanaian," Selorm Oklu, a Ghana-based fashion designer, says. "We want to see bold colors and details in our clothing." A perfect example? The reversible blazer from her line Akataasia - a solid structured blazer on one side, a printed wrap jacket on the other.
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"I've always thought of sewing as a more complex form of architecture," says Oklu, who learned to sew from her aunt. The brand name means lady in Twi, one of the many languages spoken in Ghana. Oklu's daring mixes redefine the concept of ladylike dressing, drawing from an opulent culture that she describes as "rich with storytelling and vibrant color."
"I think a lot of young designers get their inspiration from traditional African wear. They're using kente and wax clothes and incorporating trends that their mothers and grandmothers wore," former Miss Ghana USA Jewel Thompson tells IFT. "People normally associate bright colors and prints with being African. What they don't realize is that trends like high slits, off-the-shoulder dresses, wraps, and even form-fitting silhouettes have always been part of our culture, too."
"People are becoming more aware of their personal style," says Oklu. "This wasn't the case a few years ago. So it's refreshing to see people stepping outside of their comfort zones."
There's always a place for self expression, says Oklu. "You can leave the house hungry," she jokes, "but you can't leave the house naked."
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