Ib Kamara Centers His African Roots in Off-White’s Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear Collection 

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Ib Kamara, Off-White creative Director
Ibrahim Kamara Off-White Fall 2024 Ready-to -wear collection

Born in Sierra Leone in 1990, Ib Kamara was forced to flee to Gambia during his country’s civil war, living with relatives before moving to London at 16. In an industry where the representation of Black individuals is still evolving, Mr. Kamara is making waves. He gained prominence with his 2016 exhibition “2026” in London, which reexamined Black African masculinity using street-cast models from Soweto, South Africa, challenging traditional views on fashion’s intersection with race, gender, and sexuality.

Mr. Kamara’s styling prowess has graced the runways and campaigns of esteemed fashion houses, including Burberry and Louis Vuitton’s menswear, as well as Erdem.

His portfolio boasts collaborations with Stella McCartney and Dior, and his editorial flair has been showcased in British Vogue, Vogue Italia, System, W, and i-D, where he served as senior editor at large before being named editor in chief of Dazed, a quarterly magazine on youth culture.

In a tribute to Kamara’s unique talent, the late Virgil Abloh, according to a New York Times profile, once remarked, “An Ib Kamara comes along once in a generation.” At the time, Kamara was styling for Off-White, a role that prefigured his current position as the brand’s creative director, showcasing his enduring impact on the fashion world.

Recently, Off-White captivated the global stage by outfitting Usher in a striking electric blue biker suit adorned with 394,000 crystals, alongside his 60 roller-skating backup dancers, during the Super Bowl Halftime Show. This spectacle set the scene for Off-White’s latest unveiling in Paris, where creative director Ib Kamara presented a collection that resonates with themes of African and American identities, sports, and entertainment glamour, aptly named “Black by Popular Demand.”

Under Kamara’s direction, Off-White pays homage to its roots, celebrating the brand’s foundational connections to Black, African, and African American culture, which resonate powerfully on the global stage. Kamara infused the collection with a rich line of cultural references, blending elements from various realms of life and style. The show’s backdrop, inspired by Kamara’s fondness for the game Ludo, featured oversized, sparkling dice, setting a playful tone for the event attended by notables like Serena Williams, Willow Smith, and Coco Rocha.

Kamara’s vision for the collection was to merge his styling expertise directly into the design process, resulting in garments that showcased inside-out tailoring and utilitarian aesthetics, highlighted by vibrant lime green seams, faux fur accents, and ornate embellishments. While the collection’s ambition was clear, its execution at times seemed to call for a subtler touch.

The knitwear pieces stood out, blending traditional African motifs and beading with American varsity influences, creating a unique fusion that was both innovative and reflective. The men’s line pushed boundaries with its bold, maximalist approach, incorporating motocross and athletic influences, adorned with neon Americana motifs, beaded attire, and an array of embellishments that boldly declared Off-White’s creative ethos, steering clear of the mundane.

The fringed beading that hemmed bras for the womenswear, deconstructed sports jersey tops, and wrap varsity jacket dresses referenced Kamara’s African identity, as did the specific draping and techniques in some pieces. A counterpoint came from the all-American sportswear ribbing that Kamara transferred from cuff or hem to use as the halter neck in dresses or the straps on sandals.

In an innovative fusion of sport and style, Off-White unveiled a collaboration with Wilson, introducing basketballs encased in crystal mesh totes and high-top sneakers crafted from grainy basketball rubber, some completely encrusted with crystals, signaling their imminent appearance in athletes’ off-court fashion statements.

Kamara revisited the innovative tire-bodice dress from his initial collection, now reimagined in black with red star and bead accents, alongside introducing spiral-cut, body-hugging dresses adorned with crystal buttons, elevating the brand’s evening wear, particularly for women. This move aligns with Off-White’s escalating visibility on Hollywood’s red carpets, as seen with Colman Domingo and Issa Rae at the SAG Awards and Halle Bailey at “The Color Purple” premiere, among others, embracing the brand’s iconic designs.

Kamara reflected on the brand’s journey and its late founder, Virgil Abloh, noting the significant support from the entertainment industry and the cultural reciprocation Off-White continues to experience. “That support is so important, it’s good the culture is giving back to Off-White, V[irgil] would have been so proud to see Off-White live on,” he remarked.

Kamara portrayed the collection as a symbol of positive anticipation, underscoring its consistency with the brand’s foundational ethos and its connection to the genuine, aspirational attitude observed in everyday street life. Three years after Abloh’s death, Kamara reiterated the brand’s steadfast commitment to inclusivity and its enduring cultural resonance. He also expressed a sense of flattery toward imitation versions of Off-White creations, interpreting them as evidence of the brand’s substantial sway and the vibrant exchange between culture and economic forces.

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