Babatunde is South Africa’s original printed headwear brand. Joburg-based designer and stylist Gareth Cowden is the head behind the hats, and takes his inspiration from his travels around and love for Africa. ‘The inspiration came from a few experiences and ideas. Firstly, travelling to Gabon and seeing how the people there embrace their prints was a large factor, and promoting Africa as well as African manufacture and textiles in a contemporary light was another big part of my motivation,’ he says. With the ultimate goal of being a global brand, Babatunde merges the Western way of dressing with African colours and prints, resulting in strong, statement-making fashion that transcends traditional couture boundaries. ‘This year saw singer Lira wearing our hats in Italian Vogue, and Solange Knowles was also spotted wearing one. But I think the best Babatunde moment for 2012 was being invited to exhibit at big brand tradeshow Bread and Butter in Berlin in January 2013,’ Gareth observes. And looking to 2013, which local designers will Gareth be watching? ‘There are so many; I love Dokter and Misses, Anisa Mpungwe from Loin Cloth and Ashes is amazing, Marianne Fassler and Clive Rundle have been consistently excellent. Laduma from MaXhosa Knitwear is also incredible. There is so much exciting design coming out of South Africa at the moment,’ he says. New products from Babatunde include pith helmets, caps, bow-ties, umbrellas and clutch bags, so the brand is expanding, but there’s more meaning to Gareth’s label than growing a range of must-have fashion pieces. ‘The word Babatunde means ‘the father returns’, and we stand for strong family values. Africa needs more father figures,’ he states firmly. Hats off to you. Babatunde trilbies are priced at R300 and are available online at babatundestyles.com, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. For a limited time Babatunde will be available at edit[ed], WANTED’s pop-up store at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town, open from 9am to 7pm until the end of January 2013.