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Photography Jude Lartey

PALMWINE IceCREAM’s latest collection scrambles Tamale traditions

With Mii La, Kusi Kubi bucks the traditional expectations of sustainable fashion, gender, and West African identity

By reworking the second-hand clothing sold at Accra’s Kantanamo market into chainmail vests and debris-sweeping jawns, Dashikis and pec-baring breastplates, Kusi Kubi scrambles sustainability, gender, and West African dress. “PALMWINE IceCREAM stands for all the things that we are told, or made to believe, should not coexist with each other,” the British-Ghanaian designer says. His latest collection compounds this ham-fisted approach with leather micro-shorts, cowhide cargo pants, and basketball tunics, medieval tabards, fur-lined wraparound skirts, and bibbed vests. 

“It’s a call to DREAM, to breathe new life into the tired, the heavy, the wasteland – to transform derelict beauty.” Showcased in the husk of an old building in Accra, the collection (titled Mii La) was made in conjunction with Muslim artisans in Tamale – the capital city of Ghana’s northern region – who revamp animal hides into prayer mats, drums, and talismans for Eid. The vast majority of the collection has been repurposed from deadstock denims, upcycled leathers, and old car tyres. “Reconstruct, Re-use and Reduce”, Kubi says. “Why not find a way to create new from the old, to bring life to clothes that have died, as a conscious effort to reduce waste? The collection is the antithesis to expiration. It is delicately dramatic, a celebration of life and a celebration of Ghanaian traditions.”

The Dazed-100er forged a path towards design via fashion PR and then styling, with PALMWINE IceCREAM a sort of resistance to the homogeneity of the Global North’s fast fashion system, which necessitates waste exports on a global scale. But it’s also a deeply personal project: the Mii La show was staged in direct homage to Kubi’s late mother Joan and was accompanied by a spoken soundtrack in the Ga dialect. Click through the gallery above to see the rest of the collection, and revisit our interview with Kusi Kubi here