Ajabeng’s Ghana Awake Collection (Fall 22) comes on the heels of the highly acclaimed AfroRomance Collection (SS 21). Like the collection before it, this collection offers a window into the soul of Ajabeng, and underscores the brand’s proclivity for exquisitely made garments as well as thought-provoking social commentary in equal measure. The collection is inspired by the work of Ugandan-Sudanese photographer Richard Lokiden Wani.
Wani’s work, often set against the backdrop of urban South Sudan, documents with dignity, the charisma and resistance of his subjects despite the seeming poverty and hardship of life in Juba. His work expertly captures the pride and humanity of his subjects stemming from their sense of self-worth as opposed to their material and monetary possessions.
Similarly, the Ghana Awake collection attempts to spotlight and celebrate the effortless beauty, richness of spirit, and sense of worth that characterises everyday Ghanaians. The collection spotlights the seemingly mundane of life in Ghana, to awaken audiences to its true essence and beauty.
In doing so, the campaign for the collection was shot on the streets of Nsawam in the Eastern region of Ghana, using first-time models cast from the community on the day of the shooting. Ultimately the collection is a call to the brand’s nation of birth, Ghana, and its people to take pride in their heritage and their aesthetic.
Signature Aesthetic of the Collection
Aesthetically, the oversized silhouettes of the Ghana Awake collection are a reference to the often ill-fitting ‘Obroni wawu’ (literally ‘dead white man’s clothing’) second-hand clothing that regrettably continues to be a key part of the modern Ghanaian wardrobe. The collection seeks to reimagine the everyday Ghanaian ‘garb’ in a modern, culturally aware, ethical and environmentally sustainable way.
About the Brand
Ajabeng is a Ghanaian unisex brand birthed at the intersection of minimalism and contemporary African art and culture. The brand combines these two seemingly tangential elements to create an aesthetic that captures both the purity of minimalism and the vibrancy of African culture.
Inspired by the flamboyance of traditional African women’s wear, the do-it-yourself style of Accra’s streetwear scene, and the bold geometry of art deco architecture, Ajabeng experiments with both feminine and masculine design elements to create an aesthetic that is as experimental as it is conservative.
The brand’s dedication to building a more sustainable fashion ecosystem is underscored by its commitment to fair employment practices, providing opportunities for young African creatives, and maximising the use of biodegradable materials in its creations.
Ajabeng made its international runway debut at Arise Fashion Week 2020 to much critical acclaim. The brand was selected as one of the ‘30 under 30’ African brands by a panel of judges including Dawodu Mobolaji, Fashion Director for GQ Style USA and Naomi Campbell, an international supermodel.
Ajabeng was subsequently selected as one of the Top 8 African brands of 2020, alongside LVMH Prize Finalist Kenneth Ize and South African fashion sensation MmusoMaxwell. Since then, Ajabeng has gone on to collaborate with acclaimed African creatives such as stylist Daniel Obasi, and Photographer Stephen Tayo. The brand has been featured in a number of global fashion publications including Vogue Italia and Clash Magazine modelled by Ghanaian indie music sensation, Amaarae.
Travis Obeng-Casper is a Ghanaian fashion designer and Creative Director of Ajabeng – a contemporary Ghanaian unisex brand that he founded in 2018 while still in fashion school. Inspired by his mother’s eclectic retro fashion sense and his keen interest in the world of fashion, Travis debuted his eponymous brand Ajabeng at Glitz Africa Fashion Week 2018, as one of only a handful of student designers selected to showcase at the event. He followed this feat up with the critically acclaimed “/feiz/ one” collection at Stratcomm Africa’s ‘Fashion in the Park’, further boosting his reputation.
In 2020, Travis was selected as one of the ‘30 under 30’ designers in Africa at Arise Fashion Week. He was subsequently shortlisted as one of Africa’s Top 8 designers under 30 by a panel of fashion industry leaders such as Naomi Campbell and Mobolajo Dawodu (GQ Style USA Fashion Director).
Travis draws inspiration from the work of design duo Lucie and Luke Meier at Jil Sander as well as Christian Dior’s creative director Kim Jones. He describes his aesthetic as ‘Afro-minimalist’ and aspires to, one day, lead a major fashion house while designing for his own brand. Travis is a former student of Radford University, where he studied for a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design. He holds a Diploma in Fashion Design from Rioh’s Originate Fashion School.