Akosua Afriyie-Kumi’s brand, A A K S, uses age-old weaving techniques to create modern raffia bags full of character and colour. Her bags are made by a cooperative group of women in the Ghanaian town of Bolgatanga in the North, near the border with Burkina Faso.
Inspired by the colourful patterns and resourceful lives of local people in Bolgatanga, A A K S produces luxurious handmade accessories founded on the principle of mindful production for social impact. “I seek inspiration from everything around me to help in my design be it nature, paintings of fine artists or interior designers work to architecture. I see beauty in all the little details,” says Afriyie-Kumi.
Afriyie-Kumi established A A K S in 2014 and a year later, the brand has grown and expanded to an online store. We caught up with her to talk about her new collection, to see what’s changed, and to see what’s still the same.
What is the ethos behind A A K S?
A A K S is a luxury accessories brand that creates handcrafted quality bags in modern styles whilst maintaining the spirit of Africa through traditional methods of weaving with bright exuberant colours. Our design philosophy prioritises attention to detail, authenticity of technique and ethical values to shape a truly unique product. Each collection silhouette tells a different story through detail, colour and shape. At A A K S, we maintain control over every stage of the design and production process to ensure that the end result is imbued with the spirit and soul worthy of the A A K S stamp.
Can fashion be a vehicle for social change?
Yes very much so, creating something handcrafted has always been the goal of my brand and building a social responsibility along side has always been part my brand ethos since day one. I are truly focused on the preservation of traditional old techniques by combining them with modern design and usability. Words such as empowerment, passion and lasting are what I feel the weavers bring to each creation that we make in the community. We ensure the continuity of weaving as a pride and major income earner for many in the cooperative.
What differentiates this collection from the others you've produced in the past?
A A K S have grown organically as a unique African brand in our first year of launching and we are still making bold decisions in our design and colour selections. What differentiates our last collection from our latest is that this time we truly took customer feedback into consideration and created a strong product that is appealing to our clients. We remained committed to our roots of design and uncompromising on our aesthetics and beliefs.
What’s the A A K S aesthetic?
We strive on being a transparent sustainable luxury brand that designs small capsule collections so we can focus on quality and authenticity. We are bold, colourful and fun.
All our bags are hand-woven by craftsmen and women using organically sourced materials. Our weavers are directly paid fair wages. In the long run, we hope that our brand will go some way in contributing to the revival and sustenance of weaving as a thriving art.