Photo credit: Lolu Photography; Styled by: Overdosed Kulture


A New Dawn for Fashion and Afrobeats Kings

Photo credit: Lolu Photography; Styled by: Overdosed Kulture

New artists are using fashion to challenge cultural boundaries, spurring both controversy and diversity

By Elvis Kachi

September 2023

Last week, Afrobeats king, Asake, who currently ranks as one of Spotify’s best, with over 634,218,132 streams, started a “How to Dress like Asake” challenge, featuring funky jeans and signature jewelry. That challenge has since garnered over 2,000+ posts on Instagram alone. It is a stark reflection of how much power artists and superstars have in shaping and influencing the cultural zeitgeist. Asake came into the limelight in 2022, after being signed into Olamide’s YBNL record label. Almost immediately, his bold fashion choices became a conversation focal point for fans and critics, and he has only continued to pique interest with his signature style.


“A lot of these artists are now very aware of fashion trends both locally and internationally, and they try to infuse their personalities in their styles, so it reflects who they are,” PR officer and music journalist, Robert Solomon, tells STATEMENT when talking about the ever evolving fashion of Afrobeats artists.


The evolution of fashion within the Afrobeats genre reflects the cultural shifts and ever-changing landscape of men’s fashion. Afrobeats, characterized by its fusion of African rhythms and contemporary sounds, emerged in the early 2000s. During this period, male artists often incorporated elements of traditional African attire into their wardrobe. “If you looked at the men from back in the days, you’d see that artists like Lagbaja, Fela and Olamide would always infuse African prints,” Solomon says, “but I think this shift [in men dressing more expressively] is as a result of Afrobeats getting more international acclaim.”


As Afrobeats has gained global recognition in the last few years, the experimental fashion of male Afrobeats artists lives at the intersection of cultural preservation and contemporary expression. Artists have been embracing a more eclectic and globalized style, drawing inspiration from international fashion trends while maintaining a distinct personality flair. Artists like Asake, Flavour, Adekunle Gold, and Boj have fashion senses that are notoriously gender fluid— exaggerated pants, multiple accessories, skimpy tops, and platform shoes. Their sartorial sensibility is important as they are Black men in a conservative country like Nigeria. By embracing a wide range of styles, they encourage dialogue about diversity and individuality within the fashion world.


Flavour, styled by celebrity stylists Swazzi and Oray, caused quite the stir back home, while on tour in the UK last month. On stage in London, he wore a white ensemble with cinched waist and hips and loosely fitted bell-buttons. He paired that with a top made from glittery stones, designed to show off some skin. The current [conservative] nature of Nigeria is one that rarely allows for expression, especially from men. These artists are at the forefront of societal attitudes toward not only fashion, but masculinity as a whole. Inspiring many a dialogue about diversity, their flair for expression has extended far beyond the music industry, impacting the entire fashion industry as well.


Aguocha Chigozie Hillary, stylist and founder of Overdose Kulture, who has worked with the likes of Wande Coal, Joe Boy, Zinoleesky, and Buju, thinks that it’s essential to understand the physical and innate attributes of the artists. “I personally look at their skin type, eye color, features, who they’re inspired by, the part of their bodies that makes them confident, etc.” There is no doubt that how an artist chooses to represent themselves impacts our experience of the music itself.


The marriage of Afrobeats and fashion highlights the dynamic nature of both the music and fashion industries. It reflects their commitment to preserving tradition, embracing global influences, and promoting gender-fluid fashion. Their impact is starting to extend beyond music charts and runways, inspiring individuals worldwide to break free from conformity and express their true selves through fashion. These artists are trailblazers, reminding us of the power of style to transcend cultural boundaries.

Credit: AskPhotos, Tonia Marie Parker


Maame Yaa: Ajabeng’s All-Female Collection Celebrates African Women

Credit: AskPhotos, Tonia Marie Parker

Ajabeng Ditches Minimalism for More Vibrant Statements

By Eyram Rafael

July 2023

  • Creative Director Travis Obeng-Casper finds inspiration in his brother’s wife to create the new Ajabeng collection for women.

  • Casper draws on African style history, while incorporating modern flair.

  • The new collection emphasizes the rich colors that represent the diversity of the human experience.


Since its debut in 2018, Ajabeng has been a trailblazing unisex brand, redefining the traditional boundaries of gendered fashion. The Ghanaian fashion house is widely known for its Afro-minimalist sensibilities, which seamlessly blend the vibrancy of everyday African life with the clean lines and simplicity of contemporary fashion that has previously been associated with the West. 


This season, the Ajabeng atelier makes a return with a debut all-female collection dubbed Maame Yaa. For creative director, Travis Obeng-Casper, when inspiration strikes, it often comes in the most unexpected ways. The creative spark for his latest collection came from an unlikely source: his sister-in-law. A casual challenge from Maame Yaa, his brother’s wife, prompted Obeng-Casper to design his first all-female collection, aptly named after his muse. “My brother’s wife casually challenged me to work on a women’s collection and when I was researching, I was heavily inspired by Catherine E. McKinley’s work in the African Lookbook,” he recounts. “Funny enough, I came across the name Maame Yaa while reading the African Lookbook so I knew this was just it.”


The Maame Yaa collection draws inspiration from the rich cultural tapestry of African women, as documented in the African Lookbook. As Obeng-Casper himself puts it, the thing about Ajabeng is you get two things: a story you can relate to and pieces that anyone can wear, and this collection is no different. 


Each piece in the collection serves as a celebration of the everyday beauty of African women, as well as a tribute to their remarkable contributions to the world of fashion. By highlighting the often overlooked and underappreciated role of African women in shaping global fashion trends, Ajabeng aims to set the record straight and give credit where it is due. The collection features a wide range of styles, from flowing dresses to tailored pantsuits, all crafted with the utmost attention to detail and a keen eye for elegance and sophistication that still harken to the allure of African women’s fashion over the years. 


One standout piece is the chic asymmetrical one-shoulder dress, which takes the value and aesthetics of a traditional African women’s toga and gives it a contemporary twist. The result is a stunning piece that combines timeless elegance with cutting-edge style.


Another highlight of the collection is the use of the wrapper, which informs the silhouette and design of several pieces, including a beige drawstring skirt and an off-the-shoulder dress with ruffle bands that imitate the creases and drapes of the wrapper. Additionally, the collection features revitalized bell bottoms that are tailored to suit the modern woman. The wide-leg design adds a touch of retro flair to the collection, while the muted bold colours and intricate textures give the garments a fresh and contemporary feel. Everyday pieces like tank tops are elevated with a cowl neckline and shirts are given a spruce with a half-back detail while other shirt dresses spot a bold belt detail at the back.


What makes the pieces more beautiful is that each piece in the collection is thoughtfully named after women who have left their mark, from the past to the present. Take for instance the Abban off-shoulder dress, which pays homage to Felicia Abban, a renowned Ghanaian photographer who made history as one of the first women photographers in West Africa.


However, the new collection is not just a celebration of African women, but also of the colors and textures of the continent itself. The color palette is a visual feast, with a range of hues that are both bold and sophisticated. Obeng-Casper once again skillfully balances the bold colors with a clean aesthetic to create a colorful minimalist palette that Ajabeng is becoming known for. Hues of watermelon pink add a playful touch to the collection, while off-whites and cream lend an air of elegance and understated sophistication. Meanwhile, the use of dark coffee hues adds a sense of depth and richness to the looks, making them perfect for both daytime and evening wear.


With Maame Yaa, Ajabeng has once again proven that fashion can be so much more than just clothes – it can be a means of celebrating and honoring the richness and diversity of the human experience.