Have you ever thought “Made In Africa” fashion is just about bold colours and tribal prints that look trendy on the runway but are impractical or difficult to incorporate into your own personal style? Well, think again. Whether it is a brightly coloured scarf that brings a sense of vibrancy to a monochrome black and white outfit or a statement jewelry pieces that contrast against your minimalist looks – African fashion can turn you into a style icon and has everything you need to take your everyday looks from zero to one hundred.
Once upon a time, the prints in African textiles were referred to as tribal as a means to connote a sense of primitiveness – and wrongly so. Eventually, prints and patterns became a spring and summer trend as many top fashion designers drew inspiration from folklore to inspire their runway collections. And yet, it would be amiss to reduce African fashion to prints in general, whether they are tribal or not. When the trend is over, the works of African fashion designers will still be classy and timeless – helping you to embody the utmost grace and confidence no matter your personal style. Plus, the designs are so easy to wear and have many other qualities to them that can turn anyone into an instant style icon. Here’s why.
Clothes that tell a story
African creatives are taking ownership of traditional techniques and cultural practices when it comes to clothing and they are using it to tell their own authentic stories. Clothes are more than just fabrics and styles, they are made up of a narrative that expresses how the wearer feels in a garment. Fashion is art and most designers who create their distinct clothing also help the wearer to connect with a specific emotional story which they then embody and express to the world. By wearing the works of African designers, you might be communicating a range of stories that are altogether interesting and engaging as most pieces of clothing often end up being conversation starters.
The power of prints and patterns
An African style icon is often known to embrace the power that exudes from wearing a playful print. Why blend in when you can stand out? Even Beyonce could not resist the lure of African fashion’s prints and patterns back in 2018 when she made a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa. There, she chose to wear a variety of local designers but one designer, emerging at the time particularly wowed the world – Tongoro Studio, which is a Senegalese brand owned by Sarah Diouf. As a result, the American singer-songwriter and actress would later be seen in more patterned and printed pieces from the brand for her visual album, Black Is King.
Exude socio-cultural sophistication
The way people dress is often an expression of their background and heritage. So, one might safely conclude that when done in a respectful manner, wearing African fashion can also connote that you have an understanding of the socio-cultural background behind the textiles, origins, culture, designer’s work and more – no matter how minimal or vast that knowledge might be. Wearing these types of clothes sometimes go beyond the fact that you wear them for their beauty but also connotes a certain enlightenment about Africa and in relation to the rest of the world around you. It speaks to the notion that you are curious about other cultures and interested in supporting fashion from other communities other than your own. And, I am of the opinion that since certain African “wax print fabrics” as they are popularly called are not really African to begin with, (even thought they embody the vibrant spirit and energy of the people on the continent), there shouldn’t be any concern for cultural appropriation.
Unique and one-of-a-kind style
If you are outside the continent, dressing up in African fashion helps you create a unique and one-of-a-kind style that is pretty much difficult to copy just out of the blue. Also, if you are someone who never wants to be found wearing the same outfit or looking the same as anyone else, you will definitely look different from the crowd in African fashion. You can get comfortable with looking unique as you experiment with different outfits and style preferences. Take a maximalist approach for once by mixing and matching different elements to your heart’s content because this will be a huge plus for you. Or if you are a tad bit conservation, find subtle ways to express your individuality without compromising on style. Plus, the more unique your style is, the more likely you are to be a style icon.
An effortless and chic appearance
Usually, style icons don’t try too hard – looking good in their signature pieces is part of their second nature. No matter what clothes they wear, there is always a carefree elegance that eventually becomes an innate characteristic of their entire aura and appearance. It is a type of effortless and chic look that speaks to their realness and authenticity. To create this sense of ease, it is important to identify your signature pieces and accessories – these will be your go-to classics with everything you wear. And the right accessory, such as a pair of glasses, chunky necklaces or bright coloured scarf can turn a drab outfit into an absolute stunner.
As it is said, variety is the spice of life! Get out of a fashion rut but switching things up a little. You can be an icon of African style. Try a different colour palette, be daring with the clothes you buy and every once in a while, wear the type of African fashion that takes you completely out of your comfort zone into the realm of iconic style.