The Qowa Story
The Qowa (pronounced Ko-wa) top is an African themed contemporary apparel, which originates from Western Africa. Though it is sometimes likened to the Mexican poncho, the Qowa maintains its uniqueness by incorporating the spirit of Africa into its core. Taking its roots from as far back as the pre trans-Atlantic slave trade era, the tops were believed to have been worn by the local tribes of Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Northern Ghana, Nigeria and Sudan. It is originally made of tweed; a fabric that was specially woven in looms by hardworking women, especially for their husbands. It has a cut out side, to enable the circulation of air around the torso. Because these people lived in the tropics, closer to the equator, the climate (which was generally hotter than other regions all year round) didn’t favour the donning of sleeved clothing. The richer locals (Kings and royals) would wear kente cloths to show their (royal) status and the men would wear apparel which would not just look good, but would also be comfortable enough for someone who would most likely walk in the sun all day. The light-weight nature of the Qowa makes it a better alternative for anyone who is in such regions. One major upside of the Qowa is the array of colours and designs in which they come. Unlike the traditional smock and batakari (fugu) tops, the Qowa is lighter, inexpensive and prettier, with more colour variety and design customisability.
Currently, the Qowa is not only available in Tweed. There are many fabrics to choose from. Ranging from Wool, Fleece (for people in colder regions), refined tweed, mud cloth, raw cotton (for intermediaries) and polished cotton, polyester (for those who need that extra comfort from heat) etc, the Qowa can now be donned by people from any race, in any geographical location and by any gender.
Qowa clothing is a christian brand, and it’s built around core christian values. A vision of the brand is to draw people closer to God and get them to realize that He is the chief provider and their ever present help in times of need.
In 2012, CEO extraordinaire (Augustt) interned with Aya Morrison, a well renowned fashion designer (currently based in the United States of America). He was serving in the company as a social media strategist, blogger and also as an unofficial showroom attendant. Aya Morrison made Augustt fall in love with fashion so much so that, he began designing some outfits on her instruction and guidance; for a contract they had with Vodafone Ghana for Icons (at that time). His designs, though were not brought to life, were given a thumbs up. This motivated him to venture into bringing his designs to life. He designed a blend of African printed fabric onto a denim jacket. The design was appreciated by many of his friends. Though this was a good moment for him to launch his fashion passion, he backed down with his ideas because of funding challenges.
In 2013, Augustt started planning towards the possibility of owning a styling company, whereby they would just style celebrities for occasions. The plans didn’t really fall through as he found alternate means of making money as a DJ.
In the year 2014, this current brand was birthed. Earlier introduced as Sneaker Peak (Sneak a peek), the brand was a footwear retail brand, reselling shoes from retailers in the United States (Perfect Sport Shoes). Selling sneakers such as Jordans, Nike shoes (Cortez, AirForce, Air Max, Huarache, Yeezy) Timberland boots, Converse (Chuck Taylors) among many others, was the focus of the brand; even though he ended up wearing greater parts of the shoes.
In 2015, the brand saw an upscale in recognition and broke out of the sneaker world to the apparel world. A group of students were on a journey and they came across a weary-looking old man who had a set of traditional clothes for sale. The clothes looked really ugly and poorly produced. The old man begged these students (nine in number) to purchase his wares as he hadn’t sold anything that day and had a family to feed. As sympathetic as these students were, they decided to purchase the clothes. They loved the colors of the tops as well as the fabric; but were not motivated by the manner in which the clothes were sewn. They suggested their personal modifications to the man and assured him of extra purchases if the design could be changed to their suggested ones. They exchanged contacts and were called back and presented with the design, then called batakari (named by its resemblance with the popular fugu worn by the folk of the North). They sent the design back to their school and were amazed by how much the students loved it. Soon, they were in business. Selling these clothes to their fellow students just to make some extra cash to supplement their pocket monies as well as help those who needed support in cash, food or clothing. As time elapsed, they decided to name the design so as to differentiate it from the fugu as well as to give it a distinct name if it should break out on the market. After a long heated deliberation session, they decided to name it after one of their own (known as Naa Koowa). To make it unique and more identifiable, Augustt later suggested the spelling at least be changed (to QOWA instead of KOOWA) so as to exempt it from being mixed up with misappropriations and disambiguations. The idea span from being just an apparel named after a founder to an apparel whose coverage extends across age, size and gender. The latter meaning “koowa de koowa” is a popular saying among the Hausa tribe ( of Africa), which means “everybody”. It reflected the exact idea captured by the apparel, since it was now being worn comfortably by both gender, and came in a ‘one size fits all’ package. Upon arriving in the University of Ghana, the brand went dormant because the nine founders (known later as the Qowatians) had to take up their final year seriously and avoid all business distractions. Augustt, who at the time was faced with few issues on helping people fend for themselves as well as carrying on the vision of the brand, to be a key player in providing help for the needy decided to get the brand active again. He spoke to a few people who helped him rise it up. Soon, he got social, started a website and did a good job of helping street kids with food and also donating money to organisations who helped needy people.
In 2016, Augustt was faced with the opportunity to participate in a social entrepreneurial program held by the British council (Duapa challenge). He applied, and by the support and help of the Qowatians, they made it to the semi-finals. After this, he decided to take up entrepreneurial courses and mentorship sessions from renowned entrepreneurs globally. These steps got him to establish the Qowa Clothing brand as a firm fashion company but still stuck to the vision of helping those in need. The company saw a leap in recognition as many Ghanaian celebrities and fashion bloggers featured the Qowa tops. Soon, Qowa was the talk of the town. This led to the expected copying and replication of the designs with cheap quality materials and fashion scams.
2017 saw the Qowa Clothing brand go down in vibrance as Augustt shifted focus to an important aspect of his life in which he had to find balance before he could venture into any sort of business.
In 2018, after a year of ‘almost’ dormancy, the brand saw a revival in the middle of the year with the introduction of the retailers package. With this, those who are interested in selling the Qowa products were given the chance to do so. This shot a whole wave throughout the apparel, commerce and fashion world. He gave people who did not even have the capital to start businesses, the opportunity to start something to fend for themselves. Though he profited from this scheme, he never lost the vision of supporting those who are in need and supporting good causes that lead to better the lives of people globally. In late 2018, Augustt decided to give other people in the similar line of business to take advantage of his skills and market their products on the Qowa Clothing website. From the 1st of December, the website had finished reconstruction and featured Qowa products at lower prices as well as products from other retailers, who though have products to sell, do not have the right means to sell them; and he did this for no charge at all. The vision of Qowa Clothing is broad but can be narrowed down to helping anyone who needs that extra push in life; with the hope of being able to take people from grass situations, to grace situations. Qowa Clothing is a christian influenced brand, built around core christian values.
In 2019, the Qowa Clothing brand updated its website to feature a wider variety of items. The brand went back to basics and began retailing shoes from their old affiliates. It also added extra accessories to the brand such as smart fitness kits and beauty massagers. These caught on fast, and the clientele increased. Before that, the brand did the biggest ever giveaway in the history of giveaways, where over 50 new customers were rewarded with sneakers, makeup products, perfumes and lots of free Qowa tops, among others. From there, the brand launched their first ever affiliate program, to help their loyal customers make some cool cash. This was widely embraced by the public and it spread from Ghana all across the continent. As this was getting the brand popular, many celebrities jumped onto the Qowa train yet again, shooting another wave through the fashion industry. This saw the introduction of a new collection of Qowa Called the Qowa celeb. This is a Qowa top, made with the finest and rarest fabrics, carefully stitched and designed with the celebrity in mind. It was also the most expensive Qowa yet. Though the Qowa celeb is available on purchase, it isn’t sold to just anyone. Those who wanted to own such Qowa usually had to be referred by an existing Qowa celeb membership owner and be endorsed by the brand
... and it's never changed since 2015
We believe that a fashion store with core values helps our products stand out in a world of thousands of fashion retailers out there. From first days of Qowa, we conducted these 4 core values for everyone in and around the brand. And it has never changed since then.
The best yet; and applies to everyone, not just our VIPs
For standard orders in 30 days
In regular monthly and annual giveaways
Only the best quality fabrics allowed
Augustt LyteCo-Founder ; CEO
Adoma BrowniesCo-Founder ; Head S&M
Priscilla FugarHead, Interns
Qowa Clothing is not just a place for picking up clothes. It is a great atmosphere for everyone who loves fashion. We have exclusive African accessories right here in stores. No need to spend that extra time surfing. Next time you find yourself on the Oxford street, don’t forget to have few minutes here to enjoy the fashionable atmosphere.