Ghanaian Fashion Brand Ajabeng Honours Highlife Music in its Latest collection
Fashion and music have always coincided and complimented each other. Since the beginning of time, music and fashion have gone hand in hand since they allow people to express themselves creatively. Musicians use fashion to enhance their stage presence and convey their unique styles. In fashion, designers often draw inspiration from music and incorporate it into their collections.
One brand that executed the latter with precision with its recent collection is the Ghanaian fashion brand Ajabeng. Launched by Travis Obeng-Casper in 2020, the brand experiments with sustainable feminine and masculine design elements. Since its inception three years ago, its uniqueness and originality have bolstered the brand. Travis’s deft and creative skills in bringing out eccentric styles have earned him accolades and recognition in Ghana and beyond. 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.
In its first collection, titled “Anthology”, Ajabeng showed its commitment to expert tailoring and its minimalistic designs. Four more collections down the line, Ajabeng has consistently shown a focus on storytelling, minimalist cuts, natural colors, and materials. With the brand’s evident focus on storytelling, Ajabeng’s Pride of Ghana Spring/Summer 24′ collection was focused on music. Intersecting fashion and music together in a beautiful medley, the latest collection was focused on highlife.
Highlife is a music genre that started in West Africa, along the coastal cities of present-day Ghana, in the 19th century, during its history as a colony of the British and through its trade routes in coastal areas. It uses the melodic and main rhythmic structures of traditional African music but is typically played with Western instruments. Post-independence, highlife gained popularity, and the genre spread throughout West African regions. Now, highlife has crossed borders, and its influence is heard in various songs across the world.
Ajabeng, staying true to its ethos of storytelling, honors highlife by drawing inspiration from Kwame Nkrumah’s vision of freedom. Travis states, “The collection seeks to highlight Nkrumah’s interest in music and his desire to modernize Ghana through highlife, a culture in which sound and rhythm organize collective life.” Nkrumah recognized the influence music had and thus declared highlife as the national dance music for Ghana. With a keen eye on the urban youth, he stated that the country’s popular music scene needed to become more “Ghanaian” in composition and character.
Drawing from this, Travis birthed the “Pride of Ghana” collection, which honors highlife music and the culture it developed. Each piece tells this story by blending the traditional setting of Highlife’s peak with the brand’s contemporary style. The looks in this collection feature a range of elevated minimalist uniform pieces that speak to the time when highlife was at its peak.
Ajabeng showcased the “Pride of Ghana” collection at the just-ended Lagos Fashion Week to much aplomb, and it is exciting to see a brand successfully blend music with fashion in such a manner. The richness of culture and legacy in Higlife bleeds through all the looks in this collection.
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