Quantcast
Latest Stories

African designers defy cliches and ‘come of age’

By ,

LAGOS – African designers are fast re-defining styles emerging from the continent as they defy stereotypes and move beyond outsiders’ cliched ideas of how Africans dress.

Without abandoning their roots, designers have long embraced a range of new ideas and continue to expand, spreading their influence globally while staying in sync with evolving tastes back home.

“The African designer and African fashion in general is moving in a more global direction,” said Tsemaye Binitie, a Britain-based Nigerian designer who launched his label by the same name two years ago.

“We are doing more contemporary work … moving with a more global feel.”

Influenced by traditional, long wrap-around skirts, matching blouses and head wraps for women, designers are creating body-hugging jumpsuits, or mini, pencil skirts in the much-loved Ankara fabrics, prints with bold colours and energetic designs once known as Dutch Wax cloth.

Their message aims at those whose only perception of the continent is an outdated one: Africa’s style and creativity goes far beyond what is often shown on Western television sets.

A recent fashion week in Nigeria’s largest city of Lagos put these trends – and diversity – on display. More than 70 designers lined up for the event, including some from outside of Africa.

The African collections at the shows included hints of the traditional with a modern flair – an approach that has proven successful at home and abroad.

Dresses in Ankara fabrics were embellished with precious stones or sequins, while animal prints or tribal-themed fabric were used for collars on bespoke suits.

“African designers have definitely come of age,” said Penny McDonald, organiser of the event known as Arise Magazine Fashion Week.

“Our chosen designers all created contemporary, wearable, creative African designs that are commercial enough to transport internationally.”

– People are respecting us –

Traditional African prints are also moving with the times.

“In Bangkok, people love it because it’s something different. It’s something new. It’s something vibrant,” said Maureen Ikem Okogwu-Ikokwu, a Nigerian designer based in Thailand.

“We are much more appreciated right now. People are looking to us, respecting us.”

Ivory Coast designer Loza Maleombho was one of the few who showcased a collection made exclusively from traditional African textiles, notably the colourful, interwoven silk and cotton kente cloth from Ghana and her native country. Her models strutted the catwalk with heads wrapped in brown turbans, recalling those worn by Tuareg nomads.

“It’s about West Africa,” she said.

Maki Oh, another Nigerian designer, showed pieces of sensual African street fashion with baggy trousers suggestive of men’s agbada suits made from antique aso-oke — a traditional loom-woven fabric.

“Africa is quite a new emerging fashion center. Europe and America are quite saturated in terms of fashion. If you think of Prada and Gucci – there’s almost one in every street corner now,” said South African designer Malcolm Kluk.

If one is looking for new fashion frontiers, “maybe Africa will be that,” he said.

As interest in African designers grows, some still have to deal with tough working conditions that have prompted others to move shop to overseas bases.

Infrastructure problems such as a lack of consistent electricity have dogged designers in countries like Nigeria. Others have had to deal with copyright problems, since many African countries have no such laws that cover the fashion industry.

Nkwo Onwuka, a Nigerian designer based in Britain, has developed a ruse for beating the copycats.

“You just have to stay one step ahead and just create your own look,” she said. “Try to do it in such a way that nobody will follow you, and even if they try, it wouldn’t be the same.”


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Africa , fashion



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  8. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  9. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  10. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • Bus passengers foil bombing in Sultan Kudarat
  • Traffic from provinces to Manila light on Black Saturday
  • Sub search for missing plane to be done in week
  • Gloomy weather on Black Saturday–Pagasa
  • Mixed feelings for Gabriel Garcia Marquez in hometown
  • Sports

  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors
  • Motivated LeBron James preps for postseason
  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • OFW from UAE tests negative for MERS-Cov–health chief
  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
    Marketplace