‘I really love to look back to where I am from for inspiration’ the Central Saint Martins Menswear designer Saaba Stapleton explains, in his effortlessly relaxed manner. ‘Not necessarily Ghana but Africa in general, because I feel like Africa has a lot to offer to the world that not everyone knows about.’ Refreshingly genuine is the best way to describe the 27 year old’s practise, from inspiration to creation. Weaving elements from his life in London with seven formative years in Ghana, where he lived between 10 and 17, his work serves as a semi-autobiographical quilt of experience. It comes at a time when national cultures have gripped the fashion industry’s attention, but often for negative reasons. The focus is set on calling out brands who appear to be appropriating. This has been crucial in resetting the boundary between referencing and exploitation, but just as important is recognising the young talent able to rise up through new openings. Designers, like Saaba, who want to share their culture on their terms, and take ownership over the results. ‘My work tells a story’, he says of his designs, aesthetically driven by big silhouettes, draping and generous use of vibrant colour.
Joe Bromley, BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism