Although some observers say the ‘Year of Return’ activities of Ghana are not positioned to draw in locals, the country’s Minister of Tourism Barbara Oteng-Gyasi has disclosed $1.9 billion has been generated so far from the programme.
However, a particular Ghanaian has positioned himself well to tap into the opportunities that come with the activities. He is fashion designer Kwaku Bediako, who has styled some of the notables who visited the West African country.
The CEO of Chocolate Clothing has designed clothing for American entertainers Steve Harvey, Boris Kodjoe, Jussie Smollett, Michael Jai White, Idris Elba, Jidenna and NFL Player Ziggy Ansah.
When American rapper T.I. and his wife Tameka Cottle visited the country a few days ago, Bediako was on hand to get him fitted in a locally made outfit.
For Cardi B, Bediako offered a unisex ‘Agbada’ (smock) jacket to her during the ‘Meet & Greet’ session at Kempinski Hotel before her Accra Sports Stadium show.
Ghanaian stars Majid Michel, Joe Mettle, M.anifest and Kwabena Kwabena, as well as, Nigerian actor Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD) and music man Mr. Eazi are other notables he’s styled.
Bediako, a product of both the Achimota School and University of Ghana tinkered with the Chocolate Clothes idea from 2013 till it fully evolved in 2018 with a capacity to handle 1000 orders a month.
The contemporary fashion designer also manages the production of custom-made shoes and sandals.
“Ghanaians have always liked to look good and I think the question was; was it packaged well? And I believe strongly that now we are just getting it right. Africa is so rich and now the world sees it,” Bediako told the BBC.
He won the best fashion designer of the year award during the 2018 EMY Africa Awards as well as winning the maiden edition of Tailored African Fashion 2018, a project by African Fashion Fund in collaboration with Joy FM. His winning package comprised a flight to Paris as a speaker for the Change Now Summit as well as a visit to the French fashion house and luxury retail company, Louis Vuitton where he was to acquaint himself with Paris’ lavish products and brands. Through the African Fashion Fund, designs by Chocolate Clothes were featured in the Paris Fashion Week too. Chocolate again clothed the Black Stars of Ghana during the 2014 World Cup.
Chocolate has been featured in the Congo Airways magazine, CNN African Voices in January 2016, Vogue Magazine in 2017 and BBC radio in 2018.
Chocolate Clothes’ designs were showcased at the Fashion for Peace show in Paris, organized by the EU, African Fashion Fund, UN ITC-EFI and Ethical Fashion.
Bediako is married to Melissa Owusu, the founder of the make-up brand, Aquia and it does appear the 33-year-old has enough gas in the tank to last him on the long haul.