About House of Aama
Creating their fashion journey through Black folklore, the boutique fashion label House of Aama was started by Rebecca Henry and her daughter Akua Shabaka. Henry is a 54-year-old practicing lawyer, while Shabaka is a 24-year-old recent grad from Parsons School of Design. In 2021, this mother-daughter duo were finalists for the prestigious CDFA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists and recently showed their latest fall collection at New York Fashion Week.
Background & History
In 2013, when Akua was still in high school, she started upcycling vintage clothes with the help of her mother after becoming upset at the lack of clothing that resonated with her cultural and aesthetic interests. The mother-daughter duo realized the niche market and started selling simple items on Etsy. In 2014, the House of Aama was officially founded. Their mission: Carving out a space for fashion created by the Black community. Their clothing is made in Los Angeles, with selections for men and women. Stories that represent their Black heritage run through each of their designs. In 2016, the two decided to rebrand their label to cater to an older, sophisticated audience. The following year, their “Bloodroot Heritage” collection received widespread media recognition for its message of the strength and resilience of Black people and culture.
Aesthetics and Vision
Henry says that they explore archives, various field research, and folk history from their people and their past when creating their collections. One of the fascinating and unique strengths of House of Aama is their ability to create designs drawn from Black ancestral stories and histories at the foundation of each collection. Henry acknowledges that they represent two different generations in one label, giving them a more aerial view when looking at things together.
Their S/S ‘22 collection is an ode to Black seafarers and water spirits set among Camp Aama, a fictionalized Black resort community in the 1900s. They explain that Black resort destinations were a way for their Black ancestors to explore their livelihood. Black resorts were created by their Black ancestors to establish their being during the Jim Crow era. Their seafaring collection is also an ode to Bruce’s Beach in California, that was recently returned to its rightful owners—a Black family—after it was seized nearly a century ago. The beach was owned and operated by African Americans to offer community and opportunities that were unavailable at other beaches due to racial segregation.
Like Telfar, their organic business model and momentum helped them thrive instead of struggling amid the 2020 pandemic, while many other fashion brands struggled to stay afloat. Their label continues to embrace the stories of their ancestors. Shabaka says that they’re here to stay for a long time, and they will continue to move at a pace that works best for them.