What are Your Views on African Fashion?

What is an appropriate response to the question above ? Do I offer a simple response or a dissertation :)? To be fair, I do not think the person posing the question about my views on African fashion realized how broad it was. All the same, I decided to offer a thoughtful and gracious response (at least that is what I thought of my response) below.

I am not entirely sure if you desire a response that pertains to contemporary African inspired fashion or a response concerning traditional African fashion. For starters, Africa is a huge continent . According to the Scientific American, “Africa is bigger than China, India, the contiguous U.S. and most of Europe—combined!” Certainly, it should come as no surprise that the African continent features traditional fashion tastes and styles unique to various regions and nationalities within its boundaries. For instance, most African countries favor traditional clothing made out of rich, colorful and vibrant woven fabrics whereas others(countries) prefer traditional clothing made out of muted and neutral woven fabric.

Ghana traditional dress
Photo Credit – Pinterest (Mr & Mrs Appiah Kubi).
Burundi Traditional Clothing
Photo Credit : The New Times – Rwanda
Burkina Faso traditional clothing
Photo Credit – Afrolia
Egyptian Dress 1
Photo Credit – Play Zoa

Although these pictures are not representative of deep-rooted traditional fashion within Africa, they are reflective of traditional looks peculiar to some African nations.

Traditional African fashion has evolved (for more on this, read the blog post , Evolution of African Fashion – Midi Skirts) over the years into what is now known as contemporary African fashion. These contemporary African inspired clothing fuse traditional African styles with western styles and eastern styles.

With that said, I love the creativity and significant cultural heritage that traditional African fashion represents. What I particularly find endearing is the ingenuity of some Africans (Ashanti tribe of Ghana) evident in their woven fabric (kente). These woven fabrics are not only visually appealing but they also serve as a medium of communication.

In recent times, I love the fact that illustrious Africans are using fashion as a vehicle for improving the perception of Africa globally. Another observation worth noting is its contribution to the socio-economic development of African countries. Increasingly, contemporary African fashion has provided employment opportunities for creative spirits on the continent. Finally, I admire  the sense of pride and interest that contemporary African styles evokes among some Africans and non-Africans.

I do realize that there is an alternative school of thought regarding contemporary African fashion. This school of thought believes that there is nothing African about contemporary African fashion. However, since this post is being written in response to a question that was posed me, I will limit my response to my views. Who knows, I just might create a post centered on this alternative school of thought .

By Sherita N Brace
Sherita Brace is an entrepreneur, an international development professional and a blogger . She writes regularly on topics spanning fashion, African culture, natural health and international development.

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