African print fabrics are a hot commodity in mainstream fashion these days. This is polarizing since their use by Western designers eclipses the use by African brands which are rarely in the mainstream spotlight because of such forceful cultural appropriation. Enter President For Life, a brand that does not ignore, obscure, or varnish its origins, pitching luxury in, of all things that one could imagine, men’s underwear. These are definitely not FEED bags nor Tom Shoes that will save the Continent though their products claim to empower African artisans through fair trade. No fast fashion here. Their boxer shorts are limited editions handmade in Ghana by old-school tailors who are masters of their craft. The brand is owned by a Brooklyn-based Ghanaian, Egya Appiah, and sources its high quality cotton fabric from one of Ghana’s oldest and most renowned textile companies.
The whole concept is a statement about the representation of Africans in fashion, art, and politics. Ironic and slyly subversive, the brand name attempts to reclaim the honorific seized upon by tinpot dictators (or more complex visionaries who became dictatorial like Kwame Nkrumah who features prominently on the website) that are caricatured in still persisting popular notions of what a typical African leader looks like: a bloodthirsty kleptocrat like Mobutu, Bokassa or Mugabe.
The brand uses imagery by Brooklyn based photographer J. Quazi King (above and below).