Barimah K.K. Mensah is a 27-year-old fashion designer who’s using his art to promote the rights of the blind in Ghana.
“You don’t need to be a global fashion powerhouse before you can impact your society,” is the line 27-year old Barimah K.K. Mensah uses as a response to why he started a fashion show for the blind in Ghana. In May this year, the young fashion designer and founder of Blakk ID fashion label launched what he calls “the visually impaired runway show” for students at the Akropong School for the blind in the Eastern region of Ghana. He mobilized other fashion designers in Ghana to support the cause. The models for the fashion show were the visually-impaired students of the school. Selase Kove-Seyram met him for an interview.
Selase: What’s the Blind Catwalk?
Barimah: The blind catwalk is a show that seeks to empower the blind in Ghana, using fashion and clothing. Ultimately, it seeks to get others to reevaluate their perceptions about what the blind can or cannot do in society.
Selase: Why did you decide to do this?
Barimah: The blind fashion show was something I decided to do as a social responsibility in my work as a fashion designer. It’s all about giving back in some way to the less privileged in society. It all started in 2015 after watching on TV, some people suffering from hole in heart. That led me to when I donate some money to them. And the blind catwalk sort of follows in the same direction. I chose the Akropong School for the Blind, one of the two main special schools for the blind in the country. After designing and donating some school uniforms to them, the idea of the fashion show came to me. That’s what eventually led to the BLIND catwalk
Selase: When you saw them on the runway, how did that make you feel?
The truth is, you know, the teachers did very well because I was working with them during the rehearsals. There was a time when I considered using a modeling agency to come on board, train the models but the teachers told me they could do it. So, the teachers were the people who did all the work. When the day came and the first model came, she did so well and from there, I said to myself, wow! It’s possible, they’re doing it. I was excited and thanked God for making it possible.
Selase: What inspired you to take up this non-profit direction in fashion?
It all starts with identifying a segment in society that could do with some help and then thinking: how can I help in my own way as an individual? It doesn’t necessarily have to be big. You just have to begin from where you have the most leverage. In my case, that’s impacting the lives of others through clothing.
Selase: What does the future look for the Blind Catwalk?
The catwalk will be an annual thing, though we’ll need support to pull it off on a bigger scale. We’re looking at moving from one country to the other. We want to touch lives, we want to help the visually impaired, not only in Ghana or not only in Africa but the whole world. That’s what we’re trying to do. So if we get the support, it would really push us. The money I get is what I put in the show so maybe it won’t be enough. But I’m sure the big corporate bodies will notice and can sponsor to promote a good cause.