In 2018, while studying Fashion Design at Radford University College, Travis Obeng-Casper founded AJABENG –– a contemporary Ghanaian unisex brand.
Travis is influenced by minimalism, African art and culture, the flamboyance of traditional African womenswear, the do-it-yourself style of Accra’s streetwear scene and the bold geometry of art deco architecture.
Combining the two seemingly divergent elements of minimalism and contemporary African art and culture, the AJABENG brand creates an aesthetic – afro-minimalist – that captures both the purity of minimalism and the vibrancy of African culture.
All this, however, would not have been possible if not for Travis’ mother. Her eclectic retro fashion sense inspired the creation of the AJABENG brand.
“My mother’s eclectic fashion sense is what drew me to the world of fashion and design as a teenager,” Travis said. “Her sense of style bucked the fashion trends of the time and was so distinct for our part of the world that it always garnered attention wherever she went. I suppose growing up and seeing her experiment daily with various looks made me want to experiment with designs of my own and that ultimately became the catalyst for AJABENG.”
A self-styled and life-long student of design, Travis sees fashion as a whole universe similar to the world we live in. “It [fashion] is complex, elegantly woven, intricate and endless. The trends within are bounded by seasons. However, fashion itself is bounded by nothing. Its beauty is uniquely experienced by every generation.”
“Fashion shames no one. So long as you are confident and comfortable in your style, you are right. It serves all mankind, female or male, a perfect body geometry or regular physique, the deep-pocketed or the penniless,” he added.
Travis’ passion for fashion and personal development has seen him complete internships at brands such as Ohemaa Ohene, Chiip O Neal and Versace Collection.
In 2018, he debuted AJABENG at the Glitz Africa Fashion week as one of a handful of student designers selected to showcase at the event. This was followed by the critically acclaimed “/feiz/ one” collection at Stratcomm Africa’s “Fashion in the Park”.
Later in 2020, Travis was selected as one of “30 under 30” designers in Africa at Arise Fashion Week. He was subsequently included on the list of Top 8 designers by a panel made up of leading fashion industry players including Naomi Campbell and Mobolajo Dawodu (GQ Style USA Fashion Director).
Travis draws inspiration from the work of design duo Lucie and Luke Meier at Jil Sander and Christian Dior’s creative director, Kim Jones. He, however, aspires to lead a major fashion house while designing for his own brand.
Through the brand, he has collaborated with acclaimed African creatives including stylist Daniel Obasi, and photographer Stephen Tayo. The brand has also been featured in Clash Magazine modelled by Ghanaian indie music sensation, Amaarae and on IndustrieAfrica worn by Cape Verdean songstress, Mayra Andrade. He has also had his AfroRomance collection worn by American rapper, Jidenna.
It is Travis’ goal to build AJABENG to become a multi-million-dollar fashion house, while providing platforms, building interest and increasing the visibility of young Ghanaian & African creatives.
“Over the last 12 months, I’ve experienced growth at a pretty fast rate. Built a team of craftspeople and young leaders who are helping to create awareness about the brand and convert that awareness into sales. I also built key relationships with a number of organizations that help the growth of the brand. These things bode well for the future of the brand and they encourage me to keep pushing towards the lofty heights we aspire to.”
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