For the bold beautiful woman who is not afraid of her wild side, emerging fashion brand Ashanti Brazi’s gorgeous patterns and daring cuts are a must have in your closet! Designer Annabel Kwateng hails from Ghana and after living in Brazil has created a line of clothing that fuses the influences of the Diaspora with the Brazil Carnival. Annabel sat down with Africlectic to give us more insight on the current line Garota de Ipanema, the economics behind the fashion industry, and what’s coming up next for Ashanti Brazil.
What are your inspirations when designing a collection each season?
Garota de Ipanema is the first collection from Ashanti Brazil, in English it translates to Girl from Ipanema, a town in Rio de Janeiro. My inspiration for this collection came from passion and the colors of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, and its historical relevance to Brazilian history. Carnival was historically an event in which African slaves in Brazil would dress up to emulate the lifestyle of their European Masters, yet still infused with their African flavor.
Whilst living in Brazil, I was struck by the intense African influence in the culture. In addition to the Carnival, the African influence was evident in the food, the music, the dance, and of course the body shapes. This influence was apparent in the culture of not just Afro Brazilians, but also Brazilians of Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, and Lebanese heritage. I wanted to represent this African influence in fashion too. Thus I used bright colorful wax print material to create subtly sexy cuts seen on the local Ipanema girls.
Who is the ideal person that wears Ashanti Brazil?
Essentially she is a confident woman, who is not afraid to send out the message “I am bright, bold and sexy” through her clothing choice. To make this statement shows that the Ashanti Brazil woman is mentally liberated and free from social constraints. She is a woman that shows pride of self image, culture and femininity, regardless of her racial background.
A lot of us would have to save up to buy one of your dresses! As a relatively new designer, do you feel higher prices will affect how many people purchase your collection and share the word?
This particular collection, Garota de Ipanema, is a Limited Edition, thus has been produced in a small number. The prices reflect the high quality workmanship and uniqueness of dress. Each piece in the collection is totally unique from the next as every time the material is cut, it falls naturally in a different place, thus ensuring the exclusivity of the dress. The quality of our garments means that they are investment pieces that can be worn again and again. A common complaint of the women, who have previously purchased wax print dresses from other stores, was that they were left disappointed with the quality and the feel of their purchase. I was determined to avoid this experience with Ashanti Brazil. We have been encouraged by the fact that our clients who have ordered our dresses, have all commented on the quality as well as the style of their garment.
When I met the Nigerian designer Duro Olowulu, who has dressed Michelle Obama, he commented that the quality and the finishing of our collection were of a particularly high standard. I was very flattered by this compliment from such a well respected designer.
Where do most of the costs come into when manufacturing a dress?
The wax print used in the Garota de Ipanema collection is of the highest quality. Our supplier, based in Europe, counts many of the African First Ladies and Society Women as their main clients. Quality was of the upmost importance to me and I ensured to inform the manufacturing team that all clients should be able to see and feel the superior value of their purchase. This meant using the highest standard in materials, structure of the dresses, lining, and the correct corsetry (boning) to give the garment and wearer the right shape.
What are your future plans for Ashanti Brazil?
The future plan for Ashanti Brazil, is for it to be the Go-To Summer lifestyle brand. Thus the next step is the launch of our Brazilian bikini line. Don’t worry, they will not all be the stereotypical G-strings that most people associate with Brazilian Bikinis. In fact I am excited by the prospect of showing women that the slightly narrower cut of the Brazilian bikini – compared with those in Europe and the U.S – is more flattering to the body shape, in that it defines the waist and elongates the legs. So much so, that it is the norm on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, to see women young, old, and pregnant wearing these flattering cuts with pride. With this range of bikinis we will also be launching swimwear cover-ups, such as beautifully embellished sarongs skirts and kaftans, again using the bright bold colors that define our brand ethos.