The Bay announces Emefa Kuadey, designer and founder of israella KOBLA, has been awarded as the winning recipient of The Bay’s Fashion Fund, an initiative built to mentor and support emerging BIPOC designers in Canada. Kuadey has been awarded a $25,000 grant coupled with a three-year mentorship program designed to tackle some obstacles new designers face when entering the competitive retail landscape.
Kuadey, British born of Ghanaian descent began her career as a civil engineer. In 2017 Kuadey left the engineering field to pursue her passion for design, enrolling at George Brown College. In 2019 she was invited to showcase her work at Vancouver Fashion Week. Following the success of VFW, Emefa released isarella KOBLA’s debut collection, Freed from Captivity, that same year.
Inspiration for the Toronto-based brand comes from a juxtaposition of the designer’s interests – fashion and engineering. Each collection is designed to transcend time, re-imagining minimalism with focus placed on innovative construction and quality finishing.
Said Emefa, “As a designer of African descent, it has been important for me to redefine what an Africa-owned brand looks like and what clothing produced on the continent can be like in terms of quality and style. I currently produce israella KOBLA in Toronto, and I have a goal of opening a secondary production facility in Ghana. My vision is to evoke the same feeling that “Made in Italy” brings to people, with “Made in Ghana” contemporary fashion.”
“There is so much creativity and ingenuity amongst the fashion talent in Canada,’ said Tyler Franch, VP and Fashion Director, The Bay. “It is incredibly important to create equity in the industry and nurture this talent. Canadian fashion is inspired, diverse and world-class, and we need to celebrate that.”
The review and selection process was led by the Fashion Fund’s advisory council, consisting of some of the country’s leading industry and societal change-makers.