African fashion is synonymous with Summer and print, and white that statement may be true in the west, in Africa it is tradition. African fashion has influenced many designers throughout the west, grabbing inspiration for prints, fabrics and colours from the continent. In the months of Summer, our retail stores flood with African inspired clothing; suiting the climate and season and creating an ambience of cool summer vibes. However, in a climate of culture appropriation, it is important to be aware of the importance of fashion in Africa and to be knowledgeable about where we the inspiration for our clothes begin.
African fashion consists of vibrant colours, with prominent, and at times, clashing prints with tribal-like patterns. One of the most predominant fabrics in Africa used to create traditional printed clothing is Ankara. Ankara is 100% cotton, painted fabric used for many clothing items such as dresses, headscarves, jackets, among others. Fabric production and weaving is an important occupation in Africa, creating employment and consumerism; one of the things that make fashion in Africa so important.
Due to our globally connected world and the rise of social media, the landscape of African fashion has changed with African fashion becoming influenced by the west and western designers using traditional African clothing as inspiration for collections commercialising on features of African fashion. In addition to this, celebrities such as Beyonce and Nicki Minaj have also dawned African inspired clothing creating a commodity for the pieces. However, as an initiative to protect and display African fashion, Lagos Fashion and Design Week was launched in 2011 showcasing Nigerian and African designers bringing the media and fashion industry insiders to Nigeria to celebrate the work.
Stylist: Ryan O’Neill
Photographer: Meg Ong
Model: Kafayah Runsewe
Previously Published on The Circular on 5th December 2016