Ohema Ohene is a London based boutique brand specialising in accessories and clothing which are ethnically influenced. Ohema Ohene translates both popular and future trends into affordable and easily wearable products for both men and women and is a reflection of today’s multicultural society; taking influences from Western Africa and the Far East with a modern British twist.
Her name meaning ‘Queen & King’ in the Ghanaian language of Twi was a play on her Ghanaian heritage and her love for all things royal and fabulous.
Ohema Ohene is thrilled to announce the arrival of our first menswear collection entitled ‘Voyage’. The nonchalant mix and match designs were inspired by today’s fashion forward male; stylish key pieces include fine cotton blend sweaters, cardigans, polo shirts and hooded tops using innovative detailing techniques, from batik trims. Nautical themed embellishments, fastenings, collars, panels and sleeves. ‘Voyage’ is classic tailoring with an edge.
You were born in Britain, but your designs are very heavily influenced by your Ghanaian heritage. What inspired you to go this route?
Ghana is a beautiful country with a wealth of inspiration, culture and heritage. I wanted to celebrate this.
How would you describe your designs?
Afrocentric chic with a British twist, wearable and trendy.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Flamboyant, colourful, practical, classic and feminine
Does your own personal style influence your designs?
Yes I myself am a customer and of course a woman, I always think, and ask myself 2 questions in particular ‘what would my customers want?’ and ‘What do I look for in a product?’
Who is your favorite designer? Why?
I don’t have a favourite however I do admire brands such as Chanel, Marc Jacobs and Chloe. I would say Vivienne Westwood and Ozwald Boateng inspired me to become a designer. There use of colour and technique was of particular interest to me.
Do they influence your designs?
Not really from a design aspect but more from a commercial aspect.
What else besides your culture influences you?
Music, politics and people
At what age did you decide that you wanted to get into fashion?
I was in year 8 of secondary school, so going on 14 years old. I loved technology, textiles and business so decided that would be the route I would follow and here I am now.
At school, what else were you good at? Art? Technology?
I was a bit of a cool geek, I enjoyed Technology Textiles, Art, and Spanish. I was also a member of the Gospel and Chamber choir and played the Violin lol. I went on to do Textiles, Art and Business at A-level.
If you weren’t designing clothes, what would you like to be doing?
Well for me it was either this or cosmetic science, I wanted to create a brand that could rival Lo’real or Max factor…yes as a young one I had BIG dreams! LOL
Typically African parents prefer their children to be doctors and lawyers. How did your parents react to your career decision?
My parents have always been very supportive. Fortunately for me, they have never had the ‘typical African parent’ outlook that people are accustomed to hearing of. However my dad did want me to pursue my Cosmetic interest, we came to a compromise and I did do Chemistry A-Level, but I didn’t excel. My heart wasn’t there.
Who is your style icon of all time?
Audrey Hepburn and Diana Ross; so opposite yet I believe, very similar. I always say that when possible, dress as though its your last day on earth, go out in a bang!
What’s it like being shortlisted for an O2 X Award Young Entrepreneur of the year award?
It was an incredible sense of pride. To have people, other than my family and I believe in me and my brand Ohema Ohene. It was definitely a great honour.
You’ve also been nominated for Best Creative Business and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. How did these nominations happen?
I have no idea! I had an email from The Precious awards who informed me that I had been nominated. Once again I say I am absolutely honoured and privileged.
That’s a lot to achieve for such a new label. What else’s do you plan to achieve?
I am currently working on upcoming collections, new products and additional lines. I intend on expanding Ohema Ohene internationally, so I am also working towards that too.
For example; you have no excuses for fashion faux paux, you have no reason to justify extraordinary clothing purchases as you know that you can make it yourself and how much it really costs! But of course its great being a designer as you get to see people wearing your products and loving them.
Did you go to fashion school?
Yes, I attended the London College of Fashion.
And do you think that has helped or hindered your career?
I believe it has helped as it gave me the necessary skills and experiences to progress with my vision.
When was your first break into the industry?
I went to work in Asia for a fashion brand out there; I was able to gain a lot of insight into the industry and gained many contacts.
Did you ever train as an apprentice with another designer?
Yes I worked at Julien McDonald, Temperley and Fake London.
If you had a choice of all designers in the world, who would you prefer to work for? Why?
Moschino, simply for their love of prints, I think Ankra would work very well with the brand.
With styles from the 80’s influencing the ‘hip-star’ look and today’s fashion, what fashion trend do you think will be next to come round?
Fashions evidently come and go and these days very quickly. I think the 80’s phase will be here for some time, it’s definitely current. I think there will be a return to period costume, referencing Romanticism, the Victorian, Elizabethan eras but with a darker edge; possibly an 80’s influence in there too. The 50’s is also a time fashion loves to revisit, endlessly so I do see a return to those trends coming in the near future.
Do you pay attention to trends when it comes to your designs, or do you just go for what feels right?
Yes in terms of colour and mood, I do like to keep an eye on what the forecast is where fashion is concerned. However essentially I do what fits into the brand and what I and my customers find attractive.
Do people recognize your designs?
Yes, I believe I am the first and only person in the world currently designing and producing Batik pumps, which have become a signature feature within the Ohema Ohene brand.
Describe your philosophy about the art of fashion.
Never be afraid of colour and print! Fashion is a freedom of expression.
What do you love most about fashion?
All the colours, prints and ever changing shapes!
What do you think about fashion industry? Is it as bad as they say?
There are always two sides to the coin. I just keep the faith and stay focused.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A friend of mine once shared a quote with me “Success is the outcome of thinking, visualizing, planning and taking action.” I always try to stay positive!
Words By Tolu Akisanya