Fashion is the New Scam: ChitChat with Jehu Awuah

I had a very interesting and enlightening chat with upcoming designer Jehu Awuah on why fashion is, the new scam that everyone is hopping on. I enjoyed the entire conversation; Jehu is a whole different energy level. We spoke about thrifting and fashion in Ghana and he shared his personal story about how he left Sunyani and an 8-5 job to pursue fashion in Accra.

Jehu Asirifi Awuah

This is the only scam I can indulge in without hurting people and still making enough capital to jumpstart my career as a designer and stylist.

Jehu Awuah

Yvery Anthony: So, who is Jehu?

Jehu Awuah: I am Jehu Awuah. I work as a stylist, designer and a thrifter. I own an online thrift shop and style upcoming musicians on commission. I am from Sunyani but currently based in Accra. I design chains, upcycle some of the thrift clothes I buy, I do patchwork, tie and dye. I styled Rich Kent in his music video with Medikal.

Yvery Anthony: So, why fashion? Why did you graduate university with a beautiful degree and decide to join Kantamanto sellers at 4am, buying and selling clothes?

Jehu Awuah: I went to school for the knowledge not to get a job out of it. I can’t do anything else. From what I have done, and what I am still doing, fashion is what I’m good at. It makes me feel good. This is the only scam I can indulge in without hurting people and still making enough capital to jumpstart my career as a designer and stylist.

Yvery Anthony: So what’s the story behind how you came to Accra? Tell us a little about home.

Jehu Awuah: I grew up in Sunyani and my house was directly opposite the market. I spent almost everyday in the market but Sunyani market is very small. Accra’s market is much bigger. I heard stories about how good the market in Accra is. Building fashion dreams in Sunyani is near impossible because people do not pay attention to how you wear clothes no matter how good you do it. Accra is the hub.

Yvery Anthony: talk to us about your thrifting experience, your thrift shop. What do you look out for when shopping for items to sell in your shop ?

Jehu Awuah: My thrift shop sells everything thrifted except cars and houses. One of the things about thrifting is the crappy attitude of the sellers. Even today, I wanted to bargain on an item. Instead of talking to me she snatched it from my hands. When choosing, is based on the condition of the stuff. I handpick and it is not easy at all. I wake up at dawn to thrift; mainly for the shoes.

Below are some of the stuff from Jehu’s shop.

Yvery Anthony: I see. I can’t imagine that making this choice and sticking with it is easy. What are some of the challenges you have faced starting all this? I can spend 4-5 hours everyday in the market just to get 5 items.

Jehu Awuah: Even though I opened my online shop in Accra, I started thrifting in Sunyani. Back then there were no android phones to google trending items or keeping up with style. I only bought what I saw movie stars and rappers (in music videos) wearing. I spent a lot of time re-watching award shows, hip hop music videos and urban black movies to get a sense of what to thrift for.

Coming from an African home with bushy hair, no one calling me to work; just doing fashion was another challenge. The hair was actually to discourage me from getting a 9-5 job. It is hard for my father to accept my career path. Back in Sunyani he would randomly enter my room and count my shoes then exclaim, “3nan s3n na wodi hy3 mpaboa 30.”

Also, “Supreme stole one of my designs”.

Yvery Anthony: really?

Jehu Awuah: yes. It was a jacket with patchwork on it. After I posted the picture of me in the jacket, Supreme came out with a similar design.

Yvery Anthony: Now, there were already existing clothes that had patchwork on them…NBA patches and all. So why do you think they stole your work?

Jehu Awuah: At the time, Supreme was being called out for stealing designs from young people. Young cats in the game such as ASAP NAST and Ian Connor called them out.

Yvery Anthony: Hmmm…it’s a rough path to success isn’t it? Anyway, my next question is right now, right here, what inspires you when you design and style. Who are three people that inspire you to do what you do?

Jehu Awuah: The world is a classroom. Inspiration first of all is from withtin. I design to bring out myself and who I am at that moment, yesterday and even who I aspire to be in the future. The internet is a classroom too. Everything is a recycled idea. Take for instance Balenciaga’s new sneakers which look like photoshopped Asics design but it’s definitely better than the original. The black culture, the African culture pulls inspiration out of me everyday.

Yvery Anthony: WORD!!!

Jehu Awauh: A solid first inspiration is ASAP ROCKY. ASAP is the pioneer of new styles and new brands. I enjoy learning and seeing new things and he makes me do that. Pharrell Williams is definitely an inspiration to me. Pharrell is always striving to be different. He never jumps on what’s trending but rather brings in trends and that is what I am aiming to be. And of course how can I leave out Kanye West? The icon who introduced high-end brands including LV and Fendi.

Coming from an African home with bushy hair, no one calling me to work; just doing fashion was another challenge. Actually the hair was to discourage me from getting a 9-5 job.

Jehu Awuah

Yvery Anthony: Defo checking out Pharrell after our session. Yeah so to wrap it up. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Jehu Awuah: In 5 years my designs would be viral; on billboards, in music videos, on celebrities – practically on everyone. Simple

Yvery Anthony: Straight, straight. Yo, thank you for doing this with us. You’re an inspiration to any artist out there following their dreams. The road is narrow but the destination is worth it. I’ll leave your socials below and we hope to catch you next time. Have a wonderful day.

Below is a portfolio of Jehu’s styles and designs over the years.

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Personal page | Thrift Shop

Check out his YouTube channel below.