Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


February 16th, 2012

Babatunde: Accessories to extinguish those Winter Blues

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Written by: Jacqueline Shaw
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We all know that in the Winter months we like to retreat to those familiar shades of blacks, greys and navy blues. Well, here’s a man whose hats and umbrellas will surely add a spot of colour into the dullest of outfits.

Gareth Cowden is the man behind Babatunde. A stylist for 10yrs and renowned traveller, he grew up in the suburbs of Johannesburg and went to University in the Eastern Cape. It was here that he mixed with other races and had some of his first life changing experiences.

The name Babtunde is a Yoruba word which translates as “the father returns”. Gareth wants more “men to take responsibility of their families, Africa’s growth and for themselves.” Babatunde was conceived in tough and trying times and looks at embracing what is truly African and promoting strong family values.

“We at Babatunde urge the fathers to return to Africa. Men, behave like men – accept responsibility and accountability for yourselves. Nurture and be there for your families. Women – accept nothing less!”

Through his designs he hopes for individuals to be ‘more conscious of themselves and promote strong family values.’ All of his peak caps and trilbies (pictured below) are made in Johannesburg from African materials. His prints are proudly African and settle in hues of oranges, greens and reds on peek hats (caps), trilbies and umbrellas. Proudly African!

image courtesy – Babtunde Styles

image courtesy – Babtunde Styles


image courtesy – Babtunde Styles

image courtesy – Babtunde Styles

image courtesy – Babtunde Styles

image courtesy – Babtunde Styles

On what he hopes for the influence of the Babatunde brand to be, Cowden says;

“Hopefully we can show people around the globe that Africa is a progressive, creative, and contemporary design force and encourage the world to support Africa through buying African products rather than egotistical debt relief programmes. Or is that too harsh?”

This is a fun African brand spreading the African story through print, colour and manufacturing. For more information and to catch his latest designs visit:



image courtesy – Babtunde Styles

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  1. Nice. Those umbrellas are especially cool

    Muse Origins

  2. Cisophal K.

    Don’t get me wrong… I love the design. As a big fan of African Wax, I’d love one of those umbrellas or a hat. Unfortunately, I get stuck with the statements in the quotes. I visited Babatunde’s website hoping to find that something was missing from those quotes, or that I read it wrong (English not being my first language), but no. So I thought I would forget about it, but that didn’t work, so I finally decided to leave a comment.

    How is Babatunde expecting Africa to be ‘progressive’, and its designs to contribute to it, while its statement is highly regressive, supporting an hegemonic idea of masculinity?

    For decades now women and men (yes men as well!) have been challenging those false ideas of household/gender roles/and so on, women are encouraged to work and get out of the house to contribute to the development of their country/society…. yes women represent about half of world population and it is not fair to leave them behind, and to put all the pressure on men. Development will only happen with the help of all and not only of the ‘other half’.
    Furthermore, which are the family values Babatunde is talking about? Is it the nuclear household that splits all over the world, for reasons such as divorce, death, but also (and a very important point in Africa) about illness, such as AIDS for instance which we are trying to fight by … including/educating women!!… There are also those who do not fit into this ‘nuclear household’ such as same-sex households, single parent household, orphans brought up by their grandparents and so on….
    ‘Men behave like men’? How is a men supposed to behave? Are them all supposed to behave in the same way? Are they all supposed to fit into the same mold. Not all men are the same, nor want to same…

    So why would we create a brand that designs such lovely products and wants to go forwards, but only looks at ‘ideas’ and not at the reality?

    I do want to support Africa, but I also take into consideration what kind of motives are behind the label, and I wish I hadn’t for this one, to be able to fully enjoy those accessories… and perhaps purchase one.

    • Cindy we appreciate all comments and thank you for addressing this in a way that looks at the other point of view that may be seen from a brand such as this.

      We encourage you to stay connected as we promote various different brands, businesses and artisans and more through the website and we would love to hear your thoughts and comments too.

      best rgds
      Team AFG

  3. Patti Baltimore

    I would like to purchase a few of those beautiful umbrellas. Could you please notify me with the information? I greatly appreciate it.

  4. Rosalind

    I’d like to buy some of your beautiful umbrella’s. Please show me how.

  5. Chima

    Utterly fabulous!!! I always loved and have been collecting African Textiles that we call in my country Mozambique Capulana, but i fully agree with Cisophal K comment above. Those statements have no more place, the world is in change! I believe that for a better and progressive Africa, we must as well fight against the “mental slavery”.
    Apart from that, i found your blog very interesting and inspiring, BABATUNDE is definitely beautiful and creative! i would like to open my won shop with your products, could somebody advise me or sent me information about how the all Business goes?

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