Meet House of Aama, The Mother-Daughter Duo Weaving History Into Fashion
The brand’s latest collection is an ode to Black Americans in the Postbellum South
House of Aama, a fashion house led by Rebecca Henry, 50, and her daughter, Akua Shabaka, 20, is doing something quite marvellous. The duo—currently on their second collection, BLOODROOT, released in November—began crafting the brand as a labour of love. Akua’s teenage passion for fashion, coupled with Rebecca’s skilled expertise, birthed a line as concerned with the intricacies of fashion as it is with honouring the breadth of Black American histories through fabric, stitches, and colours, frozen in a time of newfound freedom and a special glory. Inspired by the Postbellum South and the traditions that run deep in Black lineages in the South and beyond, House of Aama is proving, like those that came before them and those who will undoubtedly follow, that they’ve always been here—and always will be.
Tell me about how you and your mother started House Of Aama.
My mother, Rebecca Henry, and I, started House of Aama in my sophomore year of high school. I began experimenting with upcycled vintage clothes, and my mom helped with the sewing and the design. Shortly after, I began wearing the clothes [we made], friends asked if I could create clothes for them. [Then] House of Aama was born. We decided to launch our first collection: URBAN NOMAD as we got more requests. URBAN NOMAD was a youth collection, utilizing fabrics and motifs from West and East Africa such as Kente cloth, Adinkra symbols and tartan plaid prints. BLOODROOT, our current collection, was born out of our desire to create an adult collection that told the story of our bloodline and the forward striving [nature] of African Americans in the Postbellum South.
BLOODROOT is a name that signifies so much, especially rooted in your Black, Southern American contexts. Can you explain what it means, and how it lent itself to creating your collection?
Bloodroot is a rare herb used by old-time conjurers and root workers as a powerful Guardian for the Family. My mother’s maternal grandmother used to give my mom bloodroot daily as a child in the summer as a medicinal tincture. As a child, my mom did not know what bloodroot was but later, as an adult, she learned that bloodroot is a rootsworker’s herb, and that her family has a long legacy of rootworkers. House of Aama’s A/W ’17 BLOODROOT collection is an ode to Southern Creole spiritually and African Roots. Hidden in plain sight. These are the tales of a Rootworker, Southern Lady, and Bluesman.
In a time of fast fashion, your embroidery, silhouettes, and overall look stand out tremendously. Why did you choose to look back into history for inspiration?
Our designs are reflective of the Postbellum Southern United States and its symbolisms. This was a time when our ancestors had been emancipated from slavery, and they were striving to claim their rightful place with forward determination and dignity. These designs are meant to convey a strong sense of self-worth built on the retention of strong cultural traditions.
What has the reception been like since the release of BLOODROOT?
Thus far, it has been very good and, to be honest, beyond imaginable. We are really moved by the amount of people that feel a deep connection with our story and inspiration. This collection is a direct reflection of our heritage and bloodline, something that is very sacred to my mother and I. For so many people to connect to our collection warms my heart. The amount of creative people and publications that have reached out to us for future collaborations has been truly amazing.
What’s in the future for HOA?
We hope that House of Aama continues to tell stories through the medium of fashion and art as we grow and expand. We look forward to continuing to build our boutique-based brand and expand our imprint in the fashion world.
See BLOODROOT:Bayou Blues, featuring designs by House of Aama, and starring Ashton Sanders of the film Moonlight.