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How Ekua Addo is stitching together multicultural identities through fashion

“When I returned to Ghana, I had to deconstruct myself and sew myself back together,” shared Ekua Addo over the phone. This analogy is especially apt for the young designer, as she not only crafts striking garments under her brand, Ekuaaddo, but her work has been instrumental in weaving together her own complex, multicultural identity.

Born in Colombia to Ghanaian and Jamaican parents, Addo had a unique blend of cultural influences that wasn’t always advantageous. There were times when she felt she didn’t fully belong to any of her ethnic backgrounds – not Jamaican enough, not Ghanaian enough, and certainly not Colombian enough. “I was bullied, I was ridiculed, and it affected my self-esteem,” she admits. “It was destructive, but eventually, it also made me who I am.”

She is quick to clarify that she doesn’t believe this experience was necessary for her to reach her potential, but she also can’t deny the influence it has had on her journey. During her final project at Radford University College, she conceptualized her identity and, to an extent, the direction for her brand. Her 9-piece collection, titled ‘Afrolatina’, drew inspiration from her unique heritage. She delved into her Jamaican roots and traced her indigenous ancestry across the Caribbean, immersing herself in their ancient designs and practices. “This collection was born out of my insecurities. In many ways, it was the most raw collection I’ve created in my life,” she reflects with a laugh.

There’s an element of her personal narrative that emanates from the clothes she designs. Her pieces feature bold colors that pop against black skin of various tones. She incorporates geometric designs and artwork from all her cultural backgrounds. “I just wanted to tell a story. In these clothes, I want people to feel beautiful, comfortable, confident, and sexy,” she elaborates. She has since represented Ghana in the CREATIVE DNA: AFRICA showcases, a London Fashion Week creative residency program highlighting seven designers from seven African countries. She excitedly mentions that superstar actress Rosario Dawson purchased one of her pieces.

As for the future of Liveekuaaddo, Addo aims to capture a larger Ghanaian audience. As a proponent of slow, responsible fashion, she finds her ideals somewhat at odds with the typical Ghanaian consumer’s habits. While she works to bridge this gap, she also has plans to make her brand 100% Ghanaian. “We are African. I can’t have half of my stuff being made in China. It contradicts the brand’s narrative. We want to push boundaries and actually start producing small scale textiles,” she states. “It might seem unattainable, but I know my dream has already come this far. Why can’t it go further?”

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