Kente Gentlemen’s “Birth of Cool” Collection Throws a Party for Black Legends

Posted inDesign News

When a new clothing line is announced with an accompanying short film, you just know it’s going to be good. 

Such is the case with “The Birth of Cool” from the Côte d’Ivoire clothing brand Kente Gentlemen. The Autumn/Winter 2022-2023 collection is aptly named, featuring glimmering jackets, handwoven cotton overcoats, and striped sets inspired by the Harlem Renaissance. Jewel tones reign supreme throughout a joyful product line dominated by rich, saturated hues of magenta, turquoise, and canary yellow. 

“This collection is a party!” writes founder and creative director Aristide Loua on the brand’s website. “It’s an ode to the cultural, musical achievements of Africans and the African Diaspora in the post-colonial era, from the 70’s up to the 80’s.” 

Loua’s campaign statement namechecks a long list of historic Black visionaries who served as inspiration for the collection, including Fela Kuti, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and Curtis Mayfield. “These legends were ready to live and party all night and day, and amidst the ongoing terrors of systemic racism and neo-colonialism,” Loua continues. “Being Black and beautiful was the motto! This is a tribute to them.”

The campaign’s short film makes it safe to say that Loua and his creative collaborators did these icons justice. “The Birth of Cool” envisions the hippest and hottest party of all time, with a celebratory nostalgia steeped in bisexual lighting. The radiant guests are decked out in shimmery, bold pieces from the collection, and even the bathrooms are party spaces at this soirée! One particularly fabulous guest wears a sequin-decal face mask as they preen in a mirror. 

The short film was directed by Will Niava and art directed by Loua himself, while the campaign features photos by Alexandre Tako. The collection was made possible with sponsorship and guidance from the Ethical Fashion Initiative. Garments from The Birth of Cool product line are available for pre-order now on the Kente Gentlemen site. 

With all this said, I am left wondering about one important detail related to the campaign… Where was my invite to the party? It must have gotten lost in the mail.