By May Oyairo
There are many reasons to love African fashion. For one, it is bright, vibrant, and colorful—perfect for someone with a strong personality and a great sense of style. Whether you wish to incorporate African prints into your style, or wish to be more statement-making in your clothing choices, keep on reading for the 6 reasons to love African fashion so you’ll surely stand out from the crowd.
It is a reflection of African culture and history
Do you know that African culture was slaying its fashion game long before the runway was invented? In fact, African fashion rooted from centuries of traditions.
For instance, the Yoruba people have a bead work tradition that dates from the sixth century—and it is sacred in both its wearing and creation. In the East, some tribes even used marine shells to create wampum beads that can serve as a currency, historical record, and even jewelry.
Do you know that the Maasai of Kenya trademarked their bead artistry to protect their cultural identity? This is because many fashion houses incorporate their designs into their collection without permission.
African fashion is fresh and innovative
Do you know that African designers are now in the fashion spotlight? Some designers even value the form and functionality of clothing over fads and trends, which make African fashion more creative and meaningful.
If you’re a woman working in a creative office, then you can surely incorporate African-inspired prints into your looks. The key is to go for decent necklines and hemlines to keep everything modest and professional. If it’s a Casual Friday in the office, then simply trade your favorite jeans with an African-print skirt that will look chic with chambray top and classic pumps.
African fashion will make your style more creative and colorful
African fashion is bright, bold, and beautiful—it’s a great inspiration if you wish to add some colors into your wardrobe. If you used to wearing black and white outfits, adding some bold pops of color into your looks might seem challenging, but you can actually start with your favorite color, along with jewel tones to brighten up your neutrals.
Once you’re comfortable adding bright colored ensembles to your neutral pieces, you can try on making your whole outfit bright, bold, and beautiful too. Just play around with the best colors for your skin tone and personality and you’ll surely make a fashion statement.
It will let you experiment with patterns and prints stylishly
Prints and patterns can add interest and meaning into your style. Do you know that some African prints are even used to tell stories, proverbs and traditional tales? A great thing, there are lots of prints to choose from to express your personal style.
You might also find the fashion trend of mixing your prints creative and fun—and African prints are a great way to start. As a rule of thumb, choose a dominant print that will be the focus of your outfit and a smaller print that will serve as the backdrop.
If you find it mixing your patterns still daunting, simply stick to two different prints of the same color or two same prints of different color for a more cohesive look. A great thing, African fashion is not just a trend—it’s a timeless look that’s here to stay.
African fashion is practical yet stylish too
You can see the creative beadwork in a traditional Maasai headpiece in the Serengeti. Do you know that Maasai travel light, but style their looks fashionably with elaborate beadwork, stacked necklaces, and dangling earrings?
Also, a bright blue Tuareg head wrap in the Sahara is a religious accessory—covering the face will ward off evil—at the same time practical, as it filters out blowing desert sands.
African fashion is versatile and easy to incorporate into your every day style too. Whether you wish to look effortless with your tee and jeans, or look fancy in a little black dress, African-inspired accessories like a scarf, turban, or a printed headband can add some interest into your looks.
African fashion is no longer restricted to local or cultural people
Since 1967 when fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent showed his iconic “African” collection, other designers have repeatedly draw inspiration from the heritage of Africa. Also, African designers are encouraged to come up with new designs and concepts to carve out their influence globally.
Apart from African prints and fabrics, some designers even incorporated intricately stitched bustiers into their designs to interpret African culture, mimicking body-scarring designs regarded as ornament in Africa.
Also, African fashion is becoming more contemporary, featuring influences from foreign cultures and mixing it with local ones. In fact, African fabrics are no longer seen by westerners solely as "traditional" wear. Do you know that Louis Vuitton even used the Kenyan Shuke in its Spring/Summer 2012 collection and Stella McCartney did the same for her Summer 2018 collection?
African culture is a great source of fashion inspiration. Regardless of your ethnicity, cultural background, or personality, embrace the beauty of African fashion so you’ll make your style more personal and meaningful.