Fashion in AFRICA: New or Just Overlooked?


Happy Hump Day to you all. The weekend is near so don’t worry too much. You will soon be able to chuck up the deuces to your boss or professors till you have to report to your regular duties come Monday morning. Deal? (My guess is…no deal!)

Agbani Darego

Anyway, if you’ve cared to notice, you would realize a lot of celebrities have been sporting “tribal” or “ethnic” clothing as of late, according to fashion bloggers, journalists and critics. I have no problem with them calling it tribal or ethnic because as far as I am concerned I do not have time to school anyone on what it SHOULD (or rather what I think it should) be called. But while we’re on the subject why don’t they just say African prints or even better call out the actual name of the print the same way they go about saying “chiffon”, “silk” or “organza”.  Please know that within the category of African fabrics we have different kinds of materials such as lace, ankara, woodin, george, hollandais and the list can go on till kingdom come. But leave it to the fashion industry to generalize things that are “unknown” to them, on that note, let’s move on before I give myself high blood pressure.

It wasn’t until I heard someone say that they felt there was a resurgence of African Fashion. Come again? Now that tipped the scale for me. A what? Resurgence? For who? You or me? Maybe because it is a familiar sight to see our parents and families dressed in native so we don’t see it as anything new. This is something we identify ourselves with, culturally. The same way you might see an Indian woman wearing a sari. She is letting you know where she hails from. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the recognition that Africa is getting for all these African inspired collections by designers such as Paul Smith, Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B and even that Boxing Kitten mess (did I say that? Ooops!). But once someone feels like they have “discovered” something NEW as if it never existed, I will raise my hand and beg to differ. Don’t try and pull a Christopher Columbus on me! Don’t tell me I am the only one that feels this way! If so, na lie!

With that said, I appreciate African designers such as Duro Olowu, Mataano, Jewels By Lisa, Ozwald Boateng, Bunmi Koko and Deola Sagoe who are not only taking what they know which is their own African textiles to create beautiful clothing but are taking that of the “Western” world to bring about collections that are shocking to the self-proclaimed fashion know-it-alls. Showcasing a different kind of fashion. So whenever they ask, “OH MY GOD! AN AFRICAN DESIGNER ACTUALLY DESIGNED THESE GARMENTS?” Proudly respond with a resounding, “YES!”

In celebration of African Fashion, I want to shine a light on events that are taking place IN AFRICA solely to expose AFRICAN DESIGNERS. If our destiny is to take over the industry of fashion, so be it.


“Swahili Fashion Week is a platform for designers – both fashion and accessory – from Swahili speaking countries to showcase their creativity, market their art and network with their clientele. This is all aimed at promoting fashion as an income generating, job creating industry while emphasizing a “Made in East Africa” concept. Swahili Fashion Week is set to be an annual fashion extravaganza where by both new and veteran designers can showcase their work. Initiating a dynamic and promising platform for the fashion industry in the region, Swahili Fashion Week is geared towards being the most sought out after fashion platform in Eastern Africa for the international market.”

This series of shows will be held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania from November 4th to the 6th. The duo behind the design label, Mataano, a line I always talk about will also be featured in this fashion week.

M-Net’s Face of Africa Top 12 Finalists modeled in last year’s Swahili Fashion Week.


Start Time: 8.30 PM

Manju Msita
Sonu Sharma
Shelina Ibrahim
United Against Malaria
Farha Sultan
Tanzania Mitindo House
Kemi Kalikawe
Zamda George
Asia Idarous


Start Time: 8.30 PM

Jamilla Swai
Marinella Rodriguez
Stella Atal
Mafi Designs
Moo Cow
Robi Morro
Made by Africa
Asos Africa


Start Time: 8.30 PM

Emerging Designers Competition
Gabriel Mollel
Khadija Mwanamboka
John Kaveke
Chichia London
Ailinda Sawe

In each post I will try my hardest to announce some events that are going on either in the States or Africa and of course anywhere else in the globe ’cause Lord knows Africans are all over this planet. We don’t die, WE MULTIPLY.

Next post…REVAMP YOUR NATIVE WARDROBE: MEN’S EDITION. Fellas are you ready for me? Till then…



  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you OYATO. You took the words right out of my mouth. I couldn't have said it any better! Excellent article. I can't wait to read the next one. Keep up the good work!

  2. Great post……

    People that are unaware always have an eureka moment for stuff that already existed…

    Oyato, thanks for saying it the way it is…..



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