As a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre and joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organisation, the Ethical Fashion Initiative links the world’s top fashion talents to maginalized artisans - the majority of them women - in East and West Africa, Haiti and the West Bank. Whilst we are all about creating a fairer global fashion industry the Ethical Fashion Initiative is also about advocating and growing young and emerging fashion designers from these regions. Designers like Stella Jean, Lisa Foliwayo, Sophie Zinga, Anita Quansah, Christie Brown, duaba serwa, Studio One Eighty Nine and MO SAÏQUE are building followings in partnership with the ITC EFI and showing in various parts of the world. A raft of new African designers are springing forth to show there is an abundance of fashion and design talent incubating in the region. The ITC EFI has been particularly active in developing this talent in West Africa and Ghana in particular. The Palette Association is a group of Accra-based designers who operate as a non-profit organisation. The young designers work with ITC EFI’s Creative Director in Ghana to “lead collaborative product development and facilitate intermediation with international and regional buyers, and provide an industry focal point for coordinating ITC support.” Recently some of the designers participated in Dutch Design Week as part of the MUD show and several also showed as part of a prestigious IED (Instituto Europeo di Design) event in Milan in partnership with SECO (Switzerland State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) an event called IED Moda. The Ghanian designers Akosua Afriyie-Kumi of AAKS, Klekleli Dzidzienyo and Netty Anang of Ameyo and two designer collaborations: Joint Collective by Leslie Wiredu and Kofi Gyedu Kwabia and Radford Collective by Afua Biney, Papa Oppong and Michael Owusu made for a strong show alongside Swiss duo PortenierRoth who used fabrics hand-woven in Burkina Faso in their collection. Other designers in the Pallette Association include: Á-Côté Collection, Ashyenne Creation, Chapter-One, Enaj Bijou Concepts, Jaunity Expressions, Mabel
Dress by Améyo at IED Moda. Photo: Paolo Consaga
Agbo, Metro Gear, Multi Bellar, Nuna Couture, Quami Wear, Sambalake, Tony Black Couture and YedeBeads. Whilst there is clearly a sense of collaboration, association and collective thought emanating from the association’s base in the Garment Enclave situated in the North Industrial Area of Accra, there is also a strong sense of the attributes and values intrinsic to the ITC EFI: craftsmanship, empowerment, ethical values and a sense of history and pride in their own culture. Of the designers who showed in Milan, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi of AAKS is based in both Ghana and London and incorporates the use of leather and raffia to create bags hand-crafted by top level local weavers; Améyo designers Klekleli Dzidzienyo and Netty Anang design and create fashion that is “relevant in the lives of the independent modern woman who is creative and sophisticated yet likes to show a simple elegant style”; Joint Collective designers Leslie Wiredu and Kofi Gyedu Kwabia combine sharp tailoring and feminine shapes, hand-woven cotton fabrics and striking Ghanaian wax prints. Their designs, whilst strong and militaryinspired are softened by using soft and airy fabrics. In Milan they paired their collection with Ghanaian shoe brand Heel The World. Finally, Radford Collective is the work of Afua Biney, Michael Owusu and Papa Oppong, whose artwork and illustrations feature a little earlier in this magazine. The three students from Ghana’s Radford University fashion department created a capsule collection showcasing talent from the country’s premier fashion programme.
With this ground swell of creativity, production and design taking place in Accra it is clear that the country is building its own foundation toward the growth of African fashion and the ITC EFI is proud to be part of it.
A A K S at IED. Photo: Paolo Consag
Radford Collective at IED Photo: Paolo Consaga
Ameyo designer Netty Anang backstage with models at the IED Moda show
Akosua AfriyieKumi of A A K S working on her bags for the IED Moda show
Watch the film: IED Moda show, Milan by Tolga Dilsiz
Above: Netty Anang and Klekleli Dzidzienyo of Améyo. This image: Kofi Gyedu and Leslie Wiredu of Joint Collective. Both images; ITC EFI