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Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

First Look: Kente Gentlemen’s Latest Collection, ‘Sodade’, is a Vivid Ode to Emotion

Ivorian designer Aristide Loua shares his newest, colorful kente threads with OkayAfrica.

Côte d'Ivoire's own Aristide Loua is the mind behind the brand, Kente Gentlemen. Launched in 2017, the brand's story is one of a young man who fell in love with kente—the traditional material native to the Akan ethnic group. Where kente cloth varies in design and patterns, Loua fittingly draws inspiration from poetry, cultures and colors. Having lived in Côte d'Ivoire, India and all over the United States, Kente Gentlemen is Loua's passion project that encompasses everything he has experienced in his travels.

"In such an interconnected world, Kente Gentlemen is a means to discover, value, celebrate, and foster our diverse sociocultural heritage and identities through fashion, aesthetics, photography and other visual arts," Loua says.


His collections are comprised of homegrown fabrics that are meticulously cut and sewn. There's a communal effort as hand-weavers, tailors, artisans and vendors work together seamlessly. Sodade, his latest Autumn/Winter 18-19 collection, forms a relationship between colors and emotions. "Each color is an emotion. Blue represents hope. Pink—romance. Yellow—happiness," he explains. "And the dark color speaks for sorrow, or despair." He examines the volatility of his emotions: "Sometimes I feel a bit of romance...other times, I feel hope for a bright future. I rejoice in happiness, even when my soul drowns in an ocean of sorrow."

The suit jackets, though dark, are distinguishable by flaps of bright colors for pockets and lining as a means of normalizing and accepting every emotion as it comes. Loua combats a society that attempts to dictate how we should feel, at any given time. He also affirms, "When you have the means or the luxury to wear exactly what you are and what you want in your life, your clothes become the reflection, the outlet of your being, of your personality, of your style, of your dreams and most certainly of your emotions."

Check out our favorite shots from Kente Gentleman's lookbook for Sodade below.

Photo by Alexandre Tako, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Alexandre Tako, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Credits

Photography: Joshua Kissi + Alexandre Tako

Model: Nana Kwasi Wiafe

Art Direction/Styling: Aristide Loua

Interview

Kofi Jamar Switches Lanes In 'Appetite for Destruction'

The Ghanaian rapper and "Ekorso" hitmaker presents a different sound in his latest EP.

The drill scene in Ghana has been making waves across the continent for some time now. If you're hip to what a crop of young and hungry artists from the city of Kumasi in Ghana and beyond have been doing over the past year, then you already know about rapper Kofi Jamar.

Towards the end of November last year he dropped one of the biggest drill songs to emerge from Ghana's buzzing drill scene, the popular street anthem "Ekorso." In the December and January that followed, "Ekorso" was the song on everyone's lips, the hip-hop song that took over the season, with even the likes of Wizkid spotted vibing to the tune.

Currently sitting at over 10 million streams across digital streaming platforms, the song topped charts, even breaking records in the process. "Ekorso" maintained the number one spot on Apple Music's Hip-Hop/Rap: Ghana chart for two months uninterrupted, a first in the history of the chart. It also had a good stint at number one of the Ghana Top 100 chart as well, among several other accolades.

Even though he's the creator of what could be the biggest song of Ghana's drill movement till date, Kofi Jamar doesn't plan on replicating his past music or his past moves. He has just issued his second EP, a 6-track project titled Appetite for Destruction, and it would surprise you to know that there isn't a single drill song on it. Although drill played a huge role in his meteoric rise, he wants to be known as way more than just a drill rapper. He wants to be known as a complete and versatile artist, unafraid to engage in any genre — and he even looks forward to creating his own genre of music during the course of his career.

We spoke to Kofi Jamar about his latest EP, and he tells us about working with Teni, why he's gravitating away from drill to a new sound, and more. Check out our conversation below.

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