Going Further with Ekow Barnes

by Matthew Neale

We sat down with Ekow Barnes, Writer and Creative from Accra, Ghana, to discuss all things travel and the creative industries.
Ekow's story underscores the profound impact travel has on creative endeavours, his experiences working across the globe has infused his work with a rich tapestry of cultural influences. Central to Ekow's creative vision is his Ghanaian heritage, which serves as a constant source of inspiration. From traditional proverbs to vibrant textiles, he seamlessly integrates elements of his culture into his work, celebrating Ghana's rich heritage while appealing to a global audience.

Amidst his global outlook, he remains grounded in his commitment to ethical fashion and sustainability, aiming to leave a positive impact on the industry.

What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion and creative industries?

My journey into the fashion and creative industries career began during a photo shoot I attended with a photographer friend. When the booked model failed to appear, my friend enlisted me to fill in, and I immediately took to it.
Later on, a chance encounter during South Africa Fashion Week with the then-editor for GQ SA after a runway show caught my interest. The fast-paced working life of fashion editors, rushing for sneak peeks and scouting looks for editorials appealed to me and I knew this was what I wanted to do, I just had to make it happen.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Lagos Fashion Week; however, I chose to cover street style for GQ SA instead. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and I leveraged my first byline to start networking with other editors. My ambition led me to contact Sara Maino at Vogue Italia with a pitch to cover emerging talents in sustainable fashion. Successfully landing my first story during Arise Fashion Week opened doors for me to pitch more ideas and feature stories, shaping my career in the fashion industry.

How does travel inspire your creative process?

Travel has been a significant source of inspiration for my creative process, experiencing different cultures, landscapes, and lifestyles while travelling broadens my perspective and fuels my creativity.
Each new destination brings a unique energy and vibrancy that I incorporate into my work. Whether it's exploring bustling cities, serene beaches, or historic sites, every place I visit adds depth and richness to my storytelling and production concepts. Travelling allows me to draw inspiration from diverse sources, which ultimately enhances the quality and originality of my creative projects.

Can you tell us about a specific travel experience that significantly influenced one of your fashion industry projects?

I absolutely love Takoradi & Cape Coast, but one travel experience that had a profound impact on one of my fashion industry projects was my trip to South Africa. The vibrant street fashion scene in Cape Town, with its eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary styles, left a lasting impression on me.

The bold colours, unique patterns, and innovative designs I encountered in Cape Town inspired me. The attention to detail, craftsmanship, and avant-garde approach to fashion in South Africa influenced my creative vision and writing process for my fashion editorial projects.

Overall, my time in Cape Town sparked a new level of creativity and pushed me to think outside the box, that was both culturally rich and fashion-forward.

In what ways does your Ghanaian heritage reflect in your work?

My Ghanaian heritage deeply influences my work, infusing it with rich cultural elements that are a testament to my roots. In my creative and writing endeavours, I draw inspiration from the storytelling traditions of Ghana, where oral narratives and proverbs play a significant role in conveying wisdom and life lessons. This narrative style often finds its way into my writing, adding depth and a sense of cultural authenticity.
Moreover, the communal spirit and warmth of Ghanaian society influence the themes I explore, such as unity, family, and resilience. By weaving these elements into my work, I aim to celebrate and share the beauty of Ghanaian culture with a broader audience, fostering a greater appreciation for the diversity and richness it offers.

What advice would you give to aspiring creative producers and writers who wish to integrate travel experiences into their creative work?

Embrace every opportunity to explore new destinations and immerse yourself in different cultures. Keep an open mind, soak up the sights, sounds, and flavours of each place you visit, and let those experiences fuel your creativity. Take the time to observe the unique details, traditions, and stories that make each location special, and find ways to weave those elements into your creative projects.

Travel is not just about ticking off destinations on a bucket list; it's about gaining fresh perspectives, fostering creativity, and connecting with the world in a meaningful way. So, go out there, explore, and let the magic of travel inspire your creative journey.

How do you approach collaborations with other creatives from different cultural backgrounds?

Always with an open mind and a spirit of curiosity. I believe that diversity enriches the creative process, so I make an effort to listen, learn, and appreciate the unique perspectives that each individual brings to the table.

What are your goals and aspirations for the future of your career in the fashion industry?

Ultimately, I hope to contribute to a shift in the fashion industry where conscious consumerism becomes the norm, and where fashion is celebrated not just for its aesthetic value but for its role in driving social and environmental change. It's about looking fabulous while being mindful of our planet and its people.

For creatives looking to break into the fashion industry, what advice would you offer based on your experiences?

Focus on crafting a unique style, network actively, seek practical experience, be humble , you don’t know it all! Persevere through challenges, and be open to feedback for continuous improvement. Keep your passion alive and stay true to your vision. Just be yourself.

Words by Matthew Neale
Photography by Fiifi Abban
Videography by Daniel Attoh
Production by Kofi Dotse

Ekow's favourite travel companions