Monday, 9 May 2011

Introducing AyiKai Couture

Tell us a bit about your brand?
Ayikai Couture is  an up and coming afro-fashion label established in 2009 by Antoinette Ayikai Amuzu a Ghanaian born living in the UKAntoinette’s vision for Ayikai is simple: To create a distinctive range of clothes that represent a fusion of contemporary design and African textiles. The result: a stylish collection of innovative, vibrant and unique fashion garments.
Ayikai Couture is quickly becoming the home of distinctive African fashion and accessories with a inimitable African feel.  Ayikai Couture [pronounced A-yi-kai] was inspired by the collection of rich & diverse cultures of Ghana, West Africa and the current fashion trends of the Western world.  Armed with a host of luscious shades and beautiful floating hemlines, Ayikai Couture is fresh and feminine, hoping to bring a touch of Ghana to everyone’s wardrobe. Belted maxi dresses, cute frill skirts and mid-length one-shoulder pieces offer stunning variety for every occasion. Ayikai Couture is proud to cater for all shapes and sizes, ensuring that anybody can feel like an African Queen in a batik wrap-around dress or floral mini.
How did you come up with the name of the brand?
Ayikai is actually my middle name.  A name given to the third girl from the Ga/Ewe tribe of Ghana, West Africa.  According to the elders, those named Ayikai are meant to be spiritual, creative and intuitive. I thought what better name to use than something that represents who I am and where am from.

Who are your designs aimed at?
Ayikai Couture is designed for women who want to showcase their feminine charm and express vitality, passion for the African Culture and individuality.  The collections are meant to flatter a women’s figure whilst retaining an individual edge. The prints are key to creating an alternative look.  The latest collection dubbed “dare to be different” does just that!

What main difficulties do you face as a bespoke brand?
You always have to make sure you produce creative pieces that would churn interest.  As usual we have to compete with the bigger high street retailers.
What do you love about Ghana?
The peaceful nature of the country, the rich and varied cultures, warmth of the people and most of all the tropical climate!

How have you incorporated Ghana into your designs?
Yes indeed. I have spent most of my childhood and adult life living in different parts of the UK, despite being born in Ghana.  My family always encouraged me and my siblings to always hold on to our heritage and culture so that we don’t forget where we coming from.  Although am being “spoiled” with the lifestyle in London, my heart still belongs to the motherland.  The concept of Ayikai is based on ancient Ghanaian style and fabrics with a modernised twist.  I wanted to create a fashion house that would represent where am from, my heritage and what I stand for as well as putting Ghana on the fashion map and to bring Ghanaian fashion to the streets of the Western world.  Most of my work is informed by my keen obsession with local culture, graphics and music and the Ghanaian ideology of design which is described to have an edgy style fused with visual poetry.

What sets you apart from other afro fashion designers?
I would say my shear dive and dedication.  I would say Ayikai has a Unique Selling Point that sets her apart from other designers which is her choice of fabrics and sewing techniques.

What kind difficulties do you face as an afro designer?
There are quite a few prominent designers within the UK AfroFashion scene who are making names for themselves within the UK and internationally. I must say it’s pretty competitive and one has to have a vivid and varied imagination to stay in this game.  On a positive note, I must say that the media buzz surrounding African fashion has never been louder or more exciting that it is now. We are increasingly seeing African influences not only on glittering catwalks around the world, but also in the designs of popular high street stores and boutiques. The current Fashion Climate is ideal for bold African designers to establish themselves as desirable global brands, harnessing their vision and creativity by delivering unique, quality fashion for the twenty-first century. 

How has your brand changed since 2009?
I believe with everything you should or you do get better with time.  I started off making a lot of maxi dresses but have moved on from that to create more tailored fitting clothes be it knee length of flowing garments.  Since 2009, I have extended my line and introduced a range of clutches made out of fabric and fine straw.  I try to keep with fashion trends to give Afro lovers an Afro alternative to what they see in the high street shops.  I am thinking about also introducing a men’s range this summer.
Describe your style in one sentence?
Ayikai is a luxury designer brand for the elegant, sophisticated and casually glamorous woman.

African fabrics are known to be very vibrant in colours does your design accentuate this?
Most of my fabrics have a cultural significance.  I started off using a lot of batik and tie and dye fabrics with most of the patterns depicting the adinkra symbols of Ghana, each with a significant meaning. My collections are guaranteed to catch the eye with Rich warm earth tones of genuine Afro-wax prints to glorify the intensity of African style!  The garments feature natural fibre, hand dyed exotic batik fabric and elegant tailoring punctuated with carefully selected accents for multi-ethnic flair.

When you're not designing you're...
I am studying for a Phd in Public Health and working in the field of medical research.

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