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Out of Accra

Kamila Schneltser

If you're familiar with our 2016 Trend Report, you'll have noted that we made mention of the rise of Accra in Ghana as an emerging design hub filled with creative potential. Well, it would seem that the appeal of this vibrant city has extended all the way to the Nordic region. While many creatives aspire to eventually move out of developing countries to the high streets of Europe, Swedish designer Malin Busck was set on making Africa a base for her fashion brand Hi On Life, and she moved production to Accra in early 2015. One of her main motivators was the rich textile heritage of Ghana and the talent of its tailors, who are slowly being pushed out of business by the influx of low-quality, mass-produced clothing imports. HOL3

'Fashion for me is a complicated interest, kind of a guilty pleasure. I love it and I hate it,' explains Malin. 'I really get a thrill from the creative, playful part...but I hate the negative effects that capitalisation and mass-production have brought to it with over-consumption, environmental destruction and inhuman working conditions as a result'.
Her aim with the move to Ghana was therefore to help support Accra-based craftsmen (and those in the neighbourhood of Labadi, in particular) by collaborating with them on all designs and to turn her business into a sustainable, responsible one. HOL4 The brand's new collection, H.O.L 2.0.2, is being showcased for the first time in March 2016 and features very strong references to the place it was conceptualised and made in. As Malin explains, the aesthetic and materials used were inspired greatly by Accra's street culture and club and music scenes as well as the sorts of garments worn at celebration and special occasions. Of course, the bold local prints are combined with the clean, simple approach typical of Scandinavian design, so the range pays tribute to all of its roots. HOL5 We love the strong architectural forms and confident imagery and the fact that every item is crafted upon request only, which allows for personalisation and prevents waste. As Malin says, these are the sorts of designs you can 'wear with pride'. For more information about Hi On Life or to purchase clothes from the old or new collection (after 19 March), visit hionlifestore.com.