N’Kya Designs: London Passion for African Fashion
Published 3 February 2011
London, as a famed capital of style, offers anyone interested in fashion or design a host of artistic delights and influences, from the vintage pieces that can be found in Camden and Old Street to the glossy boutiques of Kensington.
Infused with these are a range of styles and textiles from around the world, both in original and modified form, meaning that a sari or dashiki can be found just as easily as a pair of jeans or a cocktail dress. Whilst designers of assorted means have taken advantage of the diverse influences that can be found in London for decades, there is a growing desire by designers as well as consumers to merge clothing styles together for more than just one season.
Sheila Boateng is one such designer, having founded N’kya (pronounced Nekaya) Designs in London in 2007. The label combines elements of African clothing and aesthetics – specifically Ghanaian – with a Western touch, particularly focusing on the fusion of fabrics such as wax print cloth, satin, chiffon and mesh. N’Kya particularly prides itself on sourcing, making and shipping garments from within Ghana, using a team of highly skilled tailors and seamstresses, serving to ensure that more than just Ghana’s materials and traditions are utilised and extracted.
N’Kya clothing ranges have found success with a variety of clients, stretching from Europe to Africa to South-East Asia and back, demonstrating the appeal of being able to incorporate a number of influences into one’s wardrobe, whether familiar with a certain culture or not, reflected in the by-line “A sense of Africa … A touch of you”.
A Retail Soiree event took place on the 28th of January, featuring a new Capsule Collection of evening dresses as well as pieces from the new CityGirl Collection, which offers a range of stylish pieces suitable for work, whilst still containing markers of African-Western fusion which give N’Kya Designs it’s edge. The evening also included designs by Kayobi, another Ghanaian designer in the Diaspora, who’s T-shirts and Sweatshirts carry a political message – Make Fufu not War – as well as highlighting the theme of African pride.
Sheila Boateng’s global appeal is inspiring, particularly as the label is relatively young and she admittedly did not have a background in fashion design or sewing. Taking orders for custom-made garments as well as providing the creative vision for N’kya collections, Boateng is an artist with ambition who intends to see N’kya clothing stocked internationally at some point in the future, ensuring that everyone can enjoy her London-based passion for African fashion.