African Fashion and Its Textiles
African Fashion and Its Textiles
From the unique designs of African cloths to the unique patterns of African wax prints, African fashion has been influenced by the diversity and cultural heritage of Africa.

From the unique designs of African cloths to the unique patterns of African wax prints, African fashion has been influenced by the diversity and cultural heritage of Africa. These materials were first introduced to the continent by Dutch merchants during the 19th century. In the process, they took inspiration from indigenous Indonesian techniques and designs of Akwete cloth.


Africa's rich cultural heritage

African fashion has roots in the continent's rich cultural heritage. A common theme is the emphasis on unity with the environment and intermingling with other cultures. Moreover, clothing is a way to express individual aesthetic judgments and belong to a group. In short, the outer appearance and the way one looks affects one's status and worth in a group.


The study of African fashion and culture is important in understanding how African fashion designers and brands can support local development. The African continent is a rich cultural heritage, which can be harnessed to create value-added products that are locally produced and represent the rich diversity of the continent. The fashion industry in Africa has the potential to help local communities build economies and create jobs.


Its revolution

In a world where the most important designers are based in Paris, designers in Africa are making their presence felt. Some have come to learn basket-weaving techniques while others have come to see how different print patterns can be combined and worn. These designers are creating a revolution of sorts in the fashion industry.


This revolution has taken many forms, including a revival of African fashion. Once associated with poverty and rural life, African clothing now is seen as a reflection of modernity and social status. In many African countries, fashion is increasingly synonymous with local brands.


Its diversity

When it comes to fashion, the continent of Africa has a vast variety of influences and aesthetics. Many of these influences are influenced by the culture and traditions of the people of the continent. There are more than one billion people living in the continent. Different cities, regions, and neighborhoods have different priorities and influences. As a result, there are numerous subcultures within each continent.


For example, African clothes have been used to differentiate between sexes for thousands of years. Up until a decade ago, it was taboo to swap clothing between sexes. This practice became a cause of societal scrutiny.


Its designers

In the 1970s, African fashion designers began experimenting with European styles and creating African fashions. One of the most influential designers of the time was Nigerian shade Thomas-Fahm, who became famous for reinterpreting 1970s Lagos fashions. Shade's work included raspberry red dress reimagined in synthetic velvet and fluted Lurex sleeves. Other designers like Chris Seydou utilised African textiles to create Western trends.


While African fashion was traditionally confined to brief fads, a new generation of African designers has emerged with staying power. Incorporating traditional African designs and a focus on sustainability, these designers are redefining the African fashion industry. Many of their collections feature recycled materials and use local artisans. They are setting the tone for the decade ahead.


Its textiles

African fashion and its textiles have a long and rich history. These textiles are not only beautiful pieces of clothing, they also hold great symbolic value and are used for more than just fashion. These fabrics were traditionally used for ceremonial purposes and later were used as aprons and child carriers. Each of these textiles has its own history and emotional meaning.


The Vlisco Group has four brands, each produced in different parts of Africa. They sell their unique designs to different markets in Africa. The method of making the fabrics is a closely guarded trade secret, and it takes about 27 steps to make a single piece of cloth. The methods involved are traditional, but the method is known to be complex and involves many different steps. In the exhibition Vlisco: African Fashion and Its Textiles, the audience will learn about this intricate process in a short video and by looking at patterns.


Its brands

African fashion designers are thriving in the continent. The weak supply chains and proud local heritage of the continent mean that foreign fashion brands have not penetrated the market yet. The African fashion industry is rich with traditional styles and bold textiles. Moreover, some African brands are catering to specific local demands. For instance, Gozel Green focuses on creating clothing that tells an African story and showcases the designers' artistic flair. Their designs are typically characterized by green lining and white stitching.


The fashion line of Aisha Obuobi was founded in Ghana by Aisha Obuobi, who first experimented with African textiles when she was a child. Today, the designer is known for her meticulous attention to detail. She is best known for her structured African prints, which are made to fit the waist. Her designs are also known for their versatility.