The Mermaid tale
January 8, 2018

New Outlook on African Fashion

It’s been a long hiatus, one engendered by the need for a soul searching to create smart goals which I intend to achieve this year and to perform an objective evaluation of my role as a columnist and a fashion entrepreneur. Amidst all these series of events, I didn’t stop reading informative online resource materials that are primarily centered on fashion.

Few days to the end of the 2017, I stumbled on a thought provoking article titled “What is African Fashion, Really?” Folks, it was one of my best read of the year. In months leading up to reading the article, my partners at had proposed that we position the platform as a marketplace where we connect anyone who wants to create a bespoke apparel to anyone who is able to make the person’s need become a reality (tailors/fashion designers). I opposed the idea because I assumed we have two (2) distinct categories of apparels which are “Western wears” and “African wears” and our marketplace was supposed to promote African attires.

While I wouldn’t state categorically that my line of thought was wrong because I still think there is a difference, I am happy to admit that my perception of what difference lies between the two (2) categories has changed.

Let’s do a throwback so we can all be on the same page. My definition of African wears was any apparel made with a native African fabric such as the beloved kente, or the hand-made tie and dye material popular called Adire in my native Yoruba-land. I am sometime heady so whoever had a different definition was wrong. We needed to promote Africanism (whatever this means) and that means making a shirt with Ankara or using a guinea material to make a Kaftan. I chose to ignore the fact that the person who would make me my bold and colourful Ankara shirt is a pure African blood.

Whatever your definition of African wear is and while I am not in a position to ask you to change your views, I will just advice that we over grow the insular thoughts we have of our fashion piece. Fashion designers and to a large extent tailors are creative beings and styles are inspired to life by different sources. If a tailor at my backyard in Suru lere Lagos decides to use a “trouser material” which is made from cotton to make a Pyjama for me, I personally think that also qualifies to be called an African wear. I am more informed now and I personally feel it doesn’t have to be an African native material every time most of which are usually imported anyways.

There is an aphorism that goes thus “We learn every day” and I am glad I have a different outlook now as to what an African wear or Western wear means. I give props to the likes of Orangeculture, styletemple, Maye_Tobs and maXhosa by Laduma that are making contemporary ready to wear cloth. They are proudly African and make African wears even though they don’t rely heavily on using Ankara and other native fabrics in their collections.

My own task is simple and that is to promote African fashion wherever I find myself and that is exactly what I will keep doing.

Thanks for reading and drop your comment if you have a thought to share with me.

Till next time, cheers to the New Year and good life.

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