These days, if you haven’t rocked the African style, then you are missing out; just ask Beyoncé and Rihanna. African clothing is taking the fashion industry by storm with its beautiful combination of traditional and modern clothing.
The current rise in the importance of African fashion is as a result of the gradual change over a century ago, when Arab and European traders went to Africa and left their impact on the African clothing. Modern Africans like to wear European outfits, but on the eve of special occasions and the people living in remote areas, only traditional attires are worn.
Heck! Even foreigners are starting to appreciate and enjoy Africa attires.
Beyoncé rocking the African print.
In fact, statistics show that since 2011, the number of online searches for the term ‘African Fashion’ has literally been on a non-stop upward growth curve signaling to anyone who’s been paying attention, that there is something going on here. In your day to day life, you may have noticed the recent resurgence of interest with regards to African Clothing and Fashion. Maybe you or a friend choose to wear a Dashiki every once in a while.
Rihanna mixes Africa attire with western accessories
Whatever the case may be, the story is the same; African Fashion is growing.
The only question is why?
Below are some of the reasons why we think that African Fashion has experienced this recent boom. And why, in our opinion, this is only the beginning.
- The rise of Afro-beats:
Ever heard of Wizkid or Davido? Of course you have. These guys are king of afro beats, and are very popular across the globe.
The increase in popularity of Afro-beats has led to increased interest in all aspects of contemporary African culture. And as you might imagine, African culture also includes African fashion. The magnifying glass has been put on African culture in a big way. Interest in contemporary Fashion on the continent is an obvious by-product.
Celebrities such as Chris Brown and Beyoncé have been spotted wearing traditional Dashikis and other African clothing. And as we all know, no-one is a better publicist for fashion than celebrities.
- Social Media
Social media has enabled greater exposure of African clothing. The ease and reach to which things can be shared and people can be reached has led to a much broader range of tastes being served. This can be referred to as the ‘Long Tail’ of African Fashion so to speak. So that even those who previously did not really have interest, due to not seeing anything they liked, now have abundant choices.
- Africans in Diaspora:
African Fashion is worn more often by people in the Diaspora, leading to more recognition and appreciation. It is now seen as fashionable to wear African-inspired clothing in everyday life. More and more people are being drawn into the niche due to the simple fact that they see others that they know (or in some cases don’t), wearing these clothes.
Africans in Diaspora are also returning home, and establishing fashion focused businesses. Many in the diaspora have decided that now is the time to return home and start up on their own. Fashion is a very popular sector for many starting a new business, as this is one of the lowest cost, most well-known businesses that can be started on the continent.
Social media makes it easier than ever to spread enthusiasm and create new interest in African Fashion as a by-product.
Popular Nigerian Afro-beat singer Wizkid rocking the Dashiki
- African Art:
The rise of African Art has led to an increased interest in these things too.
African art on its own, has seen a huge resurgence in recent years. With many paying millions for the most sought after items in the space. As with the example of Afro-beat, this increased appreciation has a parallel effect on other related areas, such as the Fashion sector.
Increased political consciousness has led ultimately to an interest in culture. With an increased consciousness of issues that affect black people around the world, such as police brutality, many have sought answers to the question of how we got here and found a new appreciation for the culture and traditions of the past. Fashion and style of dress is a big part of that.
- African Cinematography:
The rise of African cinema (Nollywood in particular) is another causative factor. African cinema’s growth, through channels such as YouTube, and VOD platforms such as iRoko TV has massively encouraged the growth of the African fashion sector. With many of the stars in the space regularly showcasing the best fashion styles the continent has to offer.