After spending half a year living and studying in Ghana, writer, filmmaker and educator Akintunde (Tunde) Ahmad returned to his native East Oakland, California in 2016 sporting unique threads, colourful compositions and eclectic patterns.
During his time in Ghana, he quickly found a creative partner in Awurama Mankatah, creative designer and manager of luxury clothing brand Threaded Tribes. He became enthralled in West African fashion culture: the diversity of style, the fabric markets, the accessibility to tailors and, ultimately, the endless possibilities.
"With an abundance of tailors and access to any fabric you could desire, from woven kente to wax print to Bogolanfini (mudcloth), people could quickly get anything they imagined turned into a reality. I immediately started sketching designs, visiting fabric markets, and getting my own pieces made."
At first, though, it was small-scale: "I began making items for myself and my family. But whenever I posted pictures on social media or wore my outfits back in the States, friends or strangers would ask where I got my clothes from and how they could get their hands on something similar."
And thus, the idea for Ade Dehye was born. Founded in 2020 with continued close collaboration with Threaded Tribes, Ade Dehye is a fashion brand that draws inspiration from across the African Diaspora, with products ethically and sustainably made in Ghana.
The style fuses West African textiles with urban streetwear and luxury quality, including fugu, a woven fabric from the upper west region of Ghana; kente, a traditionally woven fabric found throughout Ghana and Bogolanfini, also known as mudcloth, a hand-dyed fabric that is made in Mali.
"Ade Dehye is more than just a clothing company. How many of you can say what you wear was made by black hands?" continues Tunde, following Ade Dehye's launch in February.
Concerned with the lack of diversity in the fashion industry, he notes that while black people often have some of the least financial resources, we spend the most money per capita on luxury designer goods.
By building a pipeline that connects the rest of the world to sustainable fabrics and fashion from Africa, Ade Dehye is Tunde's latest contribution that creates economic empowerment for black communities while reassuring the world of black peoples' contribution to global culture, fashion and style.
"When people shop with Ade Dehye, they are doing more than just purchasing our outfits. They are investing in the continent of Africa and the diaspora."