With the influence of urban culture increasingly shaping the modern day fashion industry, some fashionistas with an eye for creativity are redefining the fashion rules by blending the corporate world with African aesthetics.
Whether it’s rapper Mos Def wearing Lesotho inspired knitwear or Chris Brown and Beyonce wearing a dashiki, more people are joining the bandwagon of fusing their modern style with African inspired wear. Before this fashion frenzy, lovely culture-inspired pieces were mostly bought for traditional occasions such as weddings, now these are reaching the corporate world as well.
It’s now gradually becoming common to see a man looking dapper in an African print jacket walking into an office, or an astute woman putting on print heels with an outfit complemented by a cloth necklace. It used to be unheard of in the corporate world, since we mostly defined modern wear as exclusive of anything locally influenced. The incorporation of modern and cultural fashion has grown into a much necessary trend.
Lesotho born designer Maria McCloy who is based in South Africa, is well known for her striking African inspired accessories such as shoes, clutches and bags as well as earrings and belts. On her TEDx talk on Authentic African Aesthetics, she raised the importance of acknowledging our own sense of style in our day-to-day lives. “We can change that mentality where people feel that they should wear traditional African clothes for weddings and Western attire when they want to be sexy,” she stated.
Local fashion duo, ‘Gatsh Fros’, also incorporate African fashion in an attempt to modernise the style. They have influenced many locally to fuse the modern and the African, in a way that comes across as unique, fashion forward and corresponds to our identity.
MaXhosa, which is a knitwear brand by Laduma Ngxokolo is now being hailed as a high fashion brand in countries such as France and Japan. He states in an interview, “I felt that I had to develop knitwear that genuinely depicted my cultural aesthetics. Along my journey exploring astonishing traditional Xhosa beadwork craft, patterns, symbolism and colours, I discovered that they would be the best inspiration, so I incorporated them into modern knitwear items.”
As African Fashion makes strides in developing its own industry, it can only flourish if we become determined to be the buyers as Africans.