Nana Kwasi Wiafe’s home country is a prevailing motif in his work that goes from fashion to home furniture to authentic storytelling.
When your name is associated with a Beyoncé production, recognition is in your stars. But Ghanaian Nana Kwasi Wiafe has always been a creative force. He contributed to Beyoncé’s 2020 musical album, Black is King, as part of the styling team that took home an Emmy Award in 2021 for ‘Outstanding Costume’, but his credits also include styling British-Ghanaian actor Michaela Coel in kente prints for the cover of US-based lifestyle magazine, Variety.
Wiafe is recognized for his collaborations with brands like Diesel, Dior, Apple Inc and HBO but it is his own spin on telling authentic Ghanaian stories that led him to his true passion and purpose, Very Ghanaian, a company he launched in 2019.
He describes it as a travel lifestyle brand showcasing his love and patriotism for Ghana, and proof that his country can also produce top-of-the-range fashion.
“As a stylist, I meet a lot of people and they always double-check if I am Ghanaian and I always respond that I am ‘very Ghanaian’. When I decided to create this brand, it was the name I went with. It meant that I am unapologetically Ghanaian and proud of who I am,” affirms Wiafe.
He credits his artistic genes to his dad who used to sell clothes but was also like a sculptor.
“He displayed the clothes like an art installation and people were so intrigued that they would come by and just look at it. So, being an artist was in my blood.”
Wiafe dropped out of university after a one-year diploma in business administration and a chance encounter with the show, America’s Next Top Model that inspired his modeling career.
He also wanted to change the stereotypes around modeling. “For me, it was all about showcasing self- acceptance, authenticity and self-love.”
After working as a model, his course changed.
“I realized that I saw myself as an executive. I wasn’t getting a lot of stylists to help style me for [photo]shoots and I had to pay for them and didn’t have the budget for it at the time,” he remembers. His response to these setbacks was to do the styling himself.
Very Ghanaian is now in four stores across Ghana offering international sales via its website.
“We are also launching a new project called Very Ghanaian Home; focused on Ghana-inspired furniture. Very Ghanaian is going towards a heritage legacy brand and also creating a movement,” says Wiafe, who believes that the key to improving Ghana’s creative space is to foster collaboration between brands.
“Your ability to grow in the space lies in recognizing that no man is an island. When you collaborate, you increase your chances of delivering the best possible outcome for your client.”
He is also the creative director of THOUARTKWASI, a “high-end styling brand that creates fashion editorial looks for global brands with an African twist”.
“I believe I am sharing the beauty of Ghana and Africa with the world. It feels amazing to be able to inspire the world using Ghanaian culture and heritage,” says Wiafe.