Nana Wiafe is styling stars the African way - Bubblegum Club

Nana Wiafe is styling stars the African way

Growing up with a father that used to sell clothes, Gideon Akwasi Wiafe or simply Nana Wiafe was always destined for a career in fashion. In 2016, he ventured into modelling but he knew that he could more in the fashion industry. The following year, he started as a fashion stylist and since then, he has collaborated with the likes of Amaarae, Skepta, Michaela Coel, and Beyoncé as well as worked on editorials for Variety and Nowness as well as campaigns and spreads for Diesel., Ozward Boateng, Studio189, Marianne Fassler, Loza Malèmbho, and Jermaine Bleu to name a few.

Now that he has comfortably established himself in the space, his next mission is to make his mark on the travel and lifestyle market with his own brand, “Very Ghanaian.” Through the brand, he hopes to breed a sense of pride amongst Africans around the luxury industry and culture enough to create an ecosystem that can support itself.

In all his endeavours, he strives to tell accurate and uplifting stories about Africa and its people with the aim to inspire. Bubblegum Club sits down with the style maestro to talk about his career and ventures in fashion.

Nana Wiafe

Lee Nxumalo: At what point did you realise that working in fashion could be a feasible career option for you?

Nana Wiafe: I started as a model. But I was looking to do more than just be a model. I wanted to tell my story and I realised that styling is another part of me that I didn’t pay attention to. In 2017, I saw that styling could be something that I could do to add to what I am already doing as a model. I knew it could help me have a stronger voice and my career in the long term.

Lee Nxumalo: Do you remember who your first client was in terms of styling?

Nana Wiafe: I actually had an ongoing business relationship with a Swiss lady that was trying to create an agency that would bring talent from Africa to Europe. She was my first client who booked for me for a new collection she was trying to take to Europe.

For something that I was new to, it was so interesting and I was able to deliver in a way that made her happy. It reassured me that this is something I can do in the long term.

Lee Nxumalo: What would you say is your philosophy when it comes to approaching work as a stylist?

Nana Wiafe: As far as my philosophy, it’s always important to understand what the bigger vision is as far as what we [me and the client] are trying to achieve first. Second, how can I bring my best to add to what I’m about to do as far as styling is concerned? I’m always honest with my art and express it in its truest form and that shapes everything I want to do. I’m also very intentional about the things I put into my styling and that depends on the research I do so that I understand the perspective.

Lee Nxumalo: Who are your favourite designers?

Nana Wiafe: Of course, I love my designs [laughs] but in terms of other Ghanaian designers, there are a few that I like. One of them is Hazza; he is an incredible talent and I love how he does things.

As far as the world, I like Pierpaolo [Piccioli]. Valentino is really incredible and I feel the passion for everything that he does in his collection and presentation. I feel the energy of it and that is why I love the brand so much.

I like Thebe Magugu, he is an industry friend and I have known him for a while. I like Laduma from MaXhosa. I love Virgil Abloh, may his soul rest in peace, and what he did for our culture was so important. I love Kanye too. I like so many different people for so many different things and I would love to work with some of these incredible designers in the near future.

Lee Nxumalo: You started your fashion lifestyle brand called Very Ghanaian in 2019. What was the motivation for that?

Nana Wiafe: The motivation is for me to inspire people to hold onto who they are no matter what. I realised that me being African and Ghanaian, oftentimes, we always look to the West. Let’s be unapologetically who we are and accept who we are. Let’s love who we are and embrace our identity fully and be proud of that. People who don’t know who they are don’t know where they are going. Very Ghanaian’s main idea is to inspire patriotism and identity for everyone – whether you are Ghanaian or wherever you are in Africa.

Lee Nxumalo: What do you hope to accomplish with the brand?

Nana Wiafe: Being an artist and going on this journey has helped me discover so many different parts of myself. And it’s been such an incredible journey. Now I’m looking forward to nurturing my design side and taking it to the world. Very Ghanaian is inspired by my identity and my love for Ghana. I hope to expand it in Africa as a way to unite Africa through fashion and storytelling. I feel like there is so much for me to do and I’m looking forward to working with creative people from all over the continent and around the world to show that we have what it takes as well.

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