Kente Gentlemen's Twist on Tradition Stuns at AFU Fundraising Show

Kente Gentlemen's Twist on Tradition Stuns at AFU Fundraising Show

Ranji Mangcu

Ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Final, which was won by the host country, Côte d’Ivoire, Africa Fashion International (AFI) held the Africa Fashion Unites (AFU) Fundraising Fashion Show in Abidjan.

Hosted by AFI in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Francophonie, it was a celebration of African fashion. 28 designer brands showcased at the AFU Fundraising Fashion Show, representing the 24 countries that participated in the 2023 AFCON.  

 

The AFU Fundraising Fashion Show was held in support of the Centre Artisanal ABE APO Élisabeth, which is based in Montézo, in the Alépé Region of Cote D’Ivoire.

The Centre Artisanal ABE APO Élisabeth serves its community and economy by turning the age-old traditional practice of weaving into a skills-exchange, promoting autonomy and practical skills-development. 

 

With Côte d’Ivoire being the host, AFI had to pay special attention to the country’s vibrant fashion industry. Boasting some of the most exciting fashion designers in the continent, Côte d’Ivoire’s fashion industry has played a pivotal role in solidifying the nation’s position as an emerging force in global fashion.  

Amidst the star-studded list of African designers who showcased at the fundraiser, are a handful of Ivorian designers who are leading the charge on their home turf.

Aristide Loua of Kente Gentlemen

With each on a mission to represent the beauty and riches of their culture, their presentations were a reminder of just why they are leaders in Africa’s fashion industry. 

Kente Gentlemen  

Given the symbiotic relationship between Ivorian label Kente Gentlemen and weaving communities of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, designer Aristide Loua had a special connection to the mission of the Africa Fashion Unites Fundraising Fashion Show. Founded in 2017, Kente Gentlemen is the manifestation of Loua’s desire to foster ethical production through collaboration with local craftspeople.  

As the name suggests, Kente Gentlemen’s offbeat take on traditional suiting convention is oriented around the traditional Ghanaian textile of the same iconic name, giving continuity to the age-old, traditional practice from his contemporary perspective, defying convention through exaggerated collar, fascinating textures and unlikely takes on the well-known Kente pattern.   

Aristide Loua Kente Gentlemen 

The Kente Gentlemen capsule collection, presented during the Ivorian Collective segment of the AFU Fundraising Fashion Show, served as a triumphant retrospective.

More than just a showcase, it was a greatest hits medley, a potent reminder of the brand's mastery in transforming traditional textiles into modern masterpieces. 

From the crisp tailoring of the pagne Baoulé suiting to the bold flourish of the tie-dyed shirts with their exaggerated collars, each piece resonated with a deep understanding of heritage and a deft touch of contemporary flair.

Aristide didn't simply reimagine; he elevated, reminding us of the enduring power of tradition when reinterpreted with a visionary lens. 

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