Led by founder and creative director Aristide Loua, Kente Gentleman was founded in Abidjan in 2017 as a means of celebrating and promoting the diverse cultural heritage of Côte d'Ivoire, as well as supporting and preserving local textile industries and traditional craftsmanship. Named for the iconic Ghanaian textile Kente that has its origins in the West African country’s Ashanti Kingdom, Kente Gentleman seeks to address misconceptions about what is meant by “African” fashion through the presentation of an aesthetic that is modern and accessible.
Born and raised in Côte d'Ivoire, Loua moved to the United States for his studies. A wax print shirt gift in 2013 sparked a curiosity in him, leading to the discovery that wax print cotton cloth did not originally come from Africa. He decided to launch Kente Gentleman a few years later with a focus on handwoven fabric from craftsmen based out of the Ivorian cities of Yamoussoukro and Korhogo.
Kente Gentleman’s pieces are crafted by these local handweavers, tailors, artisans and vendors so as to provide opportunities for the local Ivorian economy. The brand also prioritizes transparent and ethical labor practices, ensuring that their tailors and artisans all receive salaries well above minimum wage. With a focus on meticulous tailoring, Kente Gentleman's menswear-inspired pieces seek to lend their wearer a dapper polish. Their collections consist largely of expertly cut blazers, trousers and waistcoats, all rendered in colorful print fabrics.
“To us, Kente Gentlemen is more than a clothing brand,” said in an interview with Bidhaar. “In such an interconnected world, it is also a means for us, by us, to discover, value, celebrate, and narrate our diverse socio-cultural heritage and identities through fashion, aesthetics, photography, and other visual arts. It’s only fair that we embrace and portray those rightful attributes to the global village we all belong to.”