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    Florence Robert

      Source: Renystyles


      From time immemorial, African clothing style has been misconceived and misrepresented. However, Africa is a diverse continent and fashion stories in Africa vary from tribe to tribe.



      The evolution of dressing in Africa cannot be traced due to the fact that there are no written records of African dressing but the oral words passed down to generations, masquerades and artifacts made it possible for African dresses to be represented.






      Clothes are items worn to cover the body, to keep the body warm and comfortable. But these reasons are the reverse for the earliest Africans who did not dress for warmth as a result of the warm climates of the continent. Their forms of clothing were bark cloths, furs, skins, and hides which were worn as loincloths for men, and as for women, they wrapped them around their waist or breast. Sometimes the rest of their bare bodies were adorned with colour pigments or beautification marks. Some traditions allowed married women to wear full body wraps while young girls wore just skirts.



      Soon Africans developed clothes using raffia to sew separate pieces of bark together as clothes. They also wore accessories like intricate beads which were made from seashells, bones, and feathers to adorn their torso. Over time, handmade clothes like colour and patterns created in printed fabrics, woven strips, dyed clothes, and beaded clothes which distinguished one tribe from the other have been passed down from one generation to the other.




      Around the 15th century, European traders began to trade with Africa and this influenced Africans greatly. They decorated the imported textiles into their local styles. This was what metamorphosed into what we now know today as African fashion designs.

      Dating back to hundred years ago, African clothing articles have evolved from primitives to unique symbolism which fit to the latest fashion trend. African clothes come in various materials, designs, colours and styles. These outfits can be used for occasional purposes and functional purposes. It can be used in the form of everyday wear.

      Each garment is a reflection of African region and diversity and visually represents Africa.
      Here are some lists of African clothes that visually speak about Africa to the world;


      Source: Unorthodox Reviews

      Mostly worn in the western part of Africa and also called kitenge in the Eastern part of Africa, Dashiki is a colourful garment. It has a V-shaped collar and embroidered neck and sleeve lines. This loose-fitting garment called Dashiki is a loaned Yoruba word, Danshiki. Yoruba also derived the word from Hausa word Dan ciki which literarily means shirt or inner garment. Danshiki alongside other Afro centric clothing styles came into the American fashion scene in 1960 when African Americans saw it as a symbol of cultural pride. It gained metaphorical significance among black activist who engaged in the black civil right movement.


      Batik Boubou dress. Source: Kipfashion

      Classic Senegalese wear, Boubou is worn by both men and women. For men the neck line is always along V-shaped and women a rounded large neck line.  Boubou is coined from Wolof, the principal Senegal language. The name ‘mbubb’, Wolof word which metamorphosed into Boubou a French word. In the western part of Nigeria, the yoruba’s call it Agbada and the Hausa’s call it Babban riga. Boubou can be traced back to the Islamized Western and central part of Africa who took pride in the outfit while other ethnic groups wore clothes similar to this style. With the African fashion industry, many African stylists specialize into Boubou and it has been given international exposure.


      Source: Clipkulture

      This hand woven clothes developed in Ghana, West Africa thousands of years ago because west Africans have been weaving textiles. Ghana Kente is also made from strips of silk and cotton. It was worn by queens and princesses among ethnic groups like Ashanti. Kente comes from the word “Kenken” which means basket or basket pattern. The Ashanti folklore of people seeking to replicate the patterns of Anansi the spider backs up how Kente was invented. Due to its popularity, printed Kente are produced massively.


      Source: Sisi Couture

      It is also called Jalabiya or Galabeya. An Egyptian unisex loose-fitting and colourful garment which has no collar and is longer remains one of Africans best outfit. It is usually worn with ammama (turban). it is also worn by Eritrea, Ethiopia and sudan. One unique characteristic of these clothes is that it is aligned with jibba which can protect the body against heat or cold. Another characteristic is the colours which are worn for seasonal purposes. For instance, white jellabiya are often worn during summer while grey, striped, olive, tan or blue which are thicker versions are worn during winter.

      Ankara (Dutch wax)

      Source: Titi’s Passion

      Over the years, lightweight fabric has become trendy in Africa and it even made its way to brand designs. Despite the fact that this fabric is termed African fabric, it can never be disputed that the original manufacturer is a Dutch. Ankara or African print gained its identity in Africa when a Dutch entrepreneur Pieter Fentener Van Vlissingen utilizes the method in making Batik, Indonesia clothes to make printed fabric. It was later diverted to the western part of Africa. Ghana are major producers of Ankara in Africa. One unique aspect of this fabric is that it does not fade quickly because of the wax resistance used in manufacturing it. Then African prints were limited to wrappers but now African fashion designers have made it into a lot of fashionable things like gowns, blazers, suits and swimsuits. They even go as far as making it into earrings, shoes, bags and other accessories. This fabric is recognized internationally.

      Finally, African fashion designs today take their roots in traditional dress. millions of people wear African attires for both ceremonial purposes and for everyday wear. wherever you go in Africa, you will see people wearing vibrant and colourful clothes.

      • This topic was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Admin.

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