On their Instagram page, the mother-daughter duo Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka from House of Aama describe their vision as “Folkways, black experience, timeless clothing”. Her collections combine spirituality, craftsmanship and pragmatism with signatures that range from corduroy suits to soft bow blouses to Victorian dresses. But Henry and Shabaka aren’t just there for the clothes; They are equally passionate about storytelling and sharing knowledge, especially the lesser known stories of black people in America. In 2017, they designed a collection in homage to Creole spirituality, largely influenced by Henry’s upbringing in Louisiana, and commemorated the beach towns that African Americans founded in the early 20th century for their first official New York Fashion Week show. The resorts were built along the lakes of the Midwest and the California coast and were a joyous getaway at a time when most beaches were not yet separated.
In the appropriately tropical, reserved atmosphere of the Freehand Hotel, Henry and Shabaka’s spring show with plate skirts, crochet tanks, scarf prints and beach stripes with a matching retro playlist nodded to this era. The duo cut their halter neck dress in bright charmeuse – a more wallet-friendly material than the typical Dupionis silk for the many retailers knocking on their door, Henry explained – and their unisex overalls got a nautical twist with sailor buttons and rope belts. Faded sweatshirts, silk shirts and a “tattoo” net were printed with hand-illustrated ships and anchors, as well as African deities and scenes from “Camp Aama”, the fictional resort that Henry and Shabaka had come up with when they were designing them. Henry proudly pointed out that the tattoo design, along with all of the other prints, fabrics and illustrations, were specially developed by her team in Los Angeles. It’s a major difference for their brand; In 2021, a young designer is much more likely to buy ready-made textiles. By creating everything from scratch, Henry and Shabaka guarantee a more personal, idiosyncratic touch in a market where so many collections look distinctive.
They even developed the fabric for their standout bikinis, which immediately sparked positive responses from the crowd. The diamond and daisy-embossed triangle tops and high-rise, cut-out bottoms were adorned with extra-long, beaded ties, a simple but groundbreaking (and still functional!) Twist that was meant to appeal to the woman who loves swimwear. as day wear. They look like top sellers in development and can open House of Aama to the world of luxury swimming too.