Meet the amazing and talented Akosua…
Akosua Afriyie-Kumi is a Ghanaian Fashion designer.
She produces raffia bags handmade by a Women’s Cooperative in Bolgatanga, Northern Ghana.
AAKS, as she is often called, aims to see how luxury and quality can grow from traditional designs and she’s working relentlessly in this line by using her Handcrafted bags to change perceptions of Africa through fashion.
After interning and working with fashion designers such as Peter Pilotto, Matthew Williamson and William Tempest in London, she embarked on her own path in 2013 to set up A A K S in Ghana.
Against all the odds, A A K S is a brand that seeks to showcase the unlimited possibilities for the Fashion and textile industries in Ghana.
Using skills and techniques that are unique to a certain part of Ghana, craftsmanship is the foundation of her luxury brand.
The designer takes at least one week to complete a handbag from her craftsmanship, which attests to an unwavering dedication to modern style and interpretations, using traditional methods.
Since launching A A K S in September 2014, Akosua has showcased her work internationally in Milan, London, Cape Town and Paris. She has been shortlisted as an emerging designer from Africa by Vogue Italia and has been featured by CNN, Vogue, Elle Decoration, Forbes woman Africa, Guardian UK, Virgin, WGSN and Harper’s Bazaar.
Akousa now stocks her collection in 16 countries and 46 stores worldwide, including Anthropologie USA, United Arrows in Japan, Maison Mara in South Africa and Urban Outfitters USA and UK.
We bring you everything about Akosua Afriyie-Kumi.
- Tell us about your brand.
A A K S is a luxury accessories brand that creates handcrafted quality bags in modern styles whilst maintaining the spirit of Africa through traditional methods of weaving with bright exuberant colours.
- What is the concept behind your designs?
Our designs’ philosophy prioritise attention to detail, authenticity of technique and ethical values to shape a truly unique product. Each collection silhouette tells a different story through detail, colour and shape. We maintain control over every stage of the design and production process to ensure that the end result is imbued with the spirit and soul worthy of the A A K S stamp.
- Where did you study fashion?
I studied Womenswear Fashion Design at Kingston University, London.
- There are a lot of successful clothing designers now, what made you decide to take the other path as an accessory designer?
There was a gap in the market for a brand that uses ethical production; and I wanted to create. I saw Raffia bags; I wanted to do something that was new, something that had not been created before. I also wanted to put Ghana on the Fashion map with my luxury designs.
- What is the fashion mood in Ghana now?
It is fast paced and the fashion scene is developing really quickly and I am so happy to be part of it.
- What are some of the challenges you are encountering as an Accessory designer in Africa?
Building a fully African-made luxury brand presents tremendous challenges, which my team and I are overcoming every day. The main challenge for us is logistics and the exorbitant cost of importing in and out of Africa. Sourcing of trims such as buckles and fabrics are a struggle, as most suppliers here are limited. We also struggle with inconsistency in production and ensuring a high quality control since our products are all handmade. However, despite all these setbacks, we are persevering and making the best out of everything and taking a competitive advantage when the need arises.
- Describe your clientele. What kind of women carry AAKS?
My Client base is diverse. Mostly style conscious women who care about quality, attention to details and want something a little unusual than what’s currently being offered and ultimately want to promote made in Africa products.
- Where can our readers reach you to purchase your products?
Readers can find us on social media and also purchase our bags directly from our online store, aaksonline.com.
- Who are your favorite African designers?
I like discovering brands so currently, I am drawn to Orange Culture, Maki oh, from Nigeria and Pichulik from South Africa.
- What do you hope to achieve with your handbag designs?
I want my business to be a recognizable fashion brand in Africa particularly and worldwide. I want to grow my customer base steadily and increase my brand awareness.
- How hard is it for you to juggle between your day to day activities and follow your dreams at same time?
It’s very hard; I think that’s the most difficult part of running a business – finding that balance of work and play. But we always make it possible.
- Any advice for AAKS readers wishing to follow their dreams?
I would say follow your dreams and just do it. There is power in beginning. Many can get wrapped up in the planning stages and never take the final leap of faith, so just go for it.
- What can we expect from you in the next 5 years or so?
I would like to be socked in major retail stores around the world and to also have a big team that can support in all aspects of the business from marketing to production. I am planning on building a Weaving Centre in the North of Ghana. But currently I am working with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees on a new weaving project. I am also in Lagos showcasing my bag designs for the Heineken Lagos Fashion And Design Week Identity Autumn / Winter 17 Presentation.
Photo credit: A A K S
Interview by: Eromosele Patrick Eidusi
Ig: @pathrik_ T:@_pathrik