A few months back, I wrote an article as a contributor for Œ Magazine. Eyiwaa – founder of her own fashion label KAYADUA – was highlighted among two other talented designers. At the time, the purpose of this article was to question the actual order and to show that this industry should not stick to a restricted map since creativity has no borders. Possibilities in terms of shapes and forms are infinite, hence restricting the fashion map to specific areas feels senseless. Eyiwaa’s first clothing collection – named NKWANTANAN – is the perfect illustration of such statements. Although the topic explored for this collection is truly personal, it is easy to identify to the spiritual journey Eyiwaa has translated this time.
Her debut collection is inspired by a dream Eyiwaa had back in 2018. At the time, she had left her hometown to go settle in the city of Accra (Ghana). “I had moved from my familiar surroundings, the connections I was used to and little knowledge about who I am as a Ghanaian Asante / Northern girl” she explains. This dream that she verbalised through this collection was a wake-up call as it was involving her mother. At a very early stage in her life, Eyiwaa had to deal with the grief of losing her mother. While growing up, the trauma generated by this experience left a burrow that she tried to control. This effort to maintain a certain stability after such a hard event had led her to this overdue and intimate meeting with her mother. When she needed the most her presence, her mother had appeared under the form of a dream – essence of her collection NKWANTANAN.
This subconscious experience provoked in her the urge to reconnect to her roots. “I think at a stage in our lives we start to wonder the direction we will like to go with our lives. That can be influenced by our experiences, connections and surroundings. At the time, that’s where I was” says Eyiwaa. This dream was appearing at a moment where she was disconnected from her lineage. Hence it felt as the presence of her mother was just confirming her urge to reconnect with her ancestors. She decided to get back to her hometown in order to explore her fashion vision through her heritage – which was once dormant.
“My knowledge and understanding of me as a person has evolved. It’s a never ending quest I feel as there’s more to learn.”
Thank to this first clothing collection Eyiwaa is now able to see clearer when it comes to her own identity. ” The collection required me to search within and outside of myself. I have a better knowing of who I am” she confirms. NKWANTANAN embodies the story of coming back home to thyself and appreciating the relationships, ancestry, customs and values that are part of us. It is a celebration to heritage and cultural symbols. Through the leopard and cheetah she is paying tribute to the Biretuo clan – which she is part of. To describe the specificity of her clan, the designer explains that “just like the other ones, the nature of the clan’s totem is used as a general description of the behaviour of the people – with exceptions of course. Biretufo are described as brave, confident, aggressive and observant.”
Additionally to this deep meanings, weaving techniques explored in NKWANTANAN are truly innovative. Eyiwaa managed to symbolise the complexity of one’s identity through the combination of skills and materials. Far from being one-dimensional, individuals are the sum of various experiences. Therefore the designer thinks “we grow and discover different aspects of ourselves. Life experiences and our surroundings can reveal our other sides.” But to truly understand how Eyiwaa perceive this notion we just need to look at the symbolism of her collection. Indeed her collection gathers a lot of references that verbalise her own identity through colors print textures and styles. “Different emotions are expressed through the range of colours used” she explains. “We have pieces that took weeks to make and others that took days. Ones that are woven. Ones that are embroidered and sewn. A range of styles all in one collection and inspired by one thing. I am the example – through this collection – that we are truly not one dimensional” adds Eyiwaa.
“It took me 18 months from sketch to finishing production. 12 months of production. The NKWANTANAN collection gathers 14 looks.”
For her debut as a clothing label, Eyiwaa knows she needs to follow her own pace when it comes to producing collection. She is already aware of the fact her production approach won’t allow her to fit the traditional fashion calender and she is totally comfortable with this idea. ” I am more interested in taking time to create. That being said I will establish my own timeline, create and release when ready” states Eyiwaa. Indeed, there is no need to submit to the traditional requirements since they are – more than ever – obsolete. The act of creating collection has changed and we must embrace this more meaningful and savvy method aimed to give real value to fashion design.
With this first collection, Eyiwaa showed us that multiple relevant topics can be explored through clothing. It is a way to investigate one’s heritage and to understand it better. As individuals, we are constantly evolving and searching for answers in our past is common practice in the quest of comprehend our identity. As claimed by the founder of KAYADUA ” I have my own unique traits but getting to know who the people I came from were and what they liked and disliked really helped paint a better of the person I am.“
Head of Production: Eyiwaa Agyekumhene
Creative Direction & Photography: Fodoa
Make-Up Artist: Elizabeth Abena Boateng