Author Sara Lieberman Photography Andrew Thomas Lee
Afriyie Poku, 30, menswear designer
What’s the fashion scene like in Atlanta?
It’s interesting. Everyone is their own individual. No one is in one specific space anymore. Because of the music scene, streetwear is huge, but you can have a gentleman in a tailored suit who may also wear a leather jacket with distressed pants.
What’s your fashion philosophy?
My belief has always been that style is the only true evidence of the soul. Fashion is beyond just the garment. It’s your character, your attitude, your walk. And no two people should ever look alike. I’m always finding a way to present something familiar in a different way, like adding a Japanese-style belt with a drop-crotch pair of denim jeans.
How do people in the street respond to your look?
That’s what’s so beautiful about Atlanta: People engage me based on my appearance. I’ll get a simple “Yo, I like that. Where’d you get it from?” Or “What brand is that?” Or “I like what you do!” and that creates a conversation. Atlanta has that respectful, creative, community vibe.
Tell us about today’s look.
One of the most consistently powerful images of a black man is that of the Black Panther. The leather jacket is from my Oberima Afriyie Kabukimono collection, and the conceptual denim pants are also my own design, consisting of two waistbands. The black cashmere and cotton turtleneck came from a thrift store, and I modified these black ankle boots from Preventi.