It’s been three years since Abrantie TheGentleman debuted a collection on an international platform with 2014’s spring collection, shopped around several fashion weeks including Joan Okorodudu’s Africa International Fashion Week and the Durban International Fashion Fair. It was great to see Abrantie back in form as the only Ghanaian label invited to show at the 2016 South Africa Menswear Week.
The new collection, called Aleyi signifies the start of a new direction for the label. The label was previously known for its very West African prints (Abrantie actually has it’s own distinctive line of fabrics) and its celebration of print and colour as well as Ghana’s history. The only thing that ties in the new collection to the rest of Abrantie’s portfolio is the distinctive crest, worn proudly above the heart. The slate is washed clean, devoid of any colours except white and grey. The silhouette is slimmer too and the pants are tailored to the model’s bodies. Abrantie uses translucent linens and heavy starched cottons in lieu of ankara and nwentoma.
The entire collection draws heavily from traditional West African formal wear; reinventing shirt style kaftans and knee length tunics. He also sent a chiffon agbada layered over a tunic down the runway, the most visually interesting piece of the collection. This collection is a perfect example of perspective. To West Africans, this collection is safe at best, and pedestrian at worst. To a West African, Abranthie doesn’t reinvent the wheel, he doesn’t even try. But compared to his past catalogue, we can appreciate the tangential shift in label aesthetics.
Ultimately Abrantie underwhelms. Not because the label isn’t trying, but because the effort is grossly insufficient commensurate to the effect the label was going for.
SA Menswear Week AW 16
Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, WC, South Africa.