Africa has a number of advantages over the west i.e. Europe and America when it comes to fashion. One of them is the sheer number of talented tailors and designers we have.
Africa and style, in this day and age, are almost synonymous. You will often find western brands taking pages out of the African fashion book, as inspiration for their new designs or collections. African inspired clothing has adorned the runways of Paris, Milan and New York to name a few.
Remember the 2018 Fifa Football World Cup and Nigeria’s kit? Yeah the team didn’t do so well on the pitch, but off it, they definitely won the best looking kit award.
Trending African Fashion
Nigeria plays a leading role in the fashion and style sphere. Whether it’s colorful headgear, flamboyant dresses or stylish shoes, you name it, Nigeria has it. And for the Nigerian fashion names: Aso Ebi, Ankara, Kaftan, Jalabiya and Agbada. These are all essential items for the cupboard.
Ankara is a particularly common term in the African fashion industry and is often what people think of when they think African clothing. Also known as African prints, African wax or Dutch wax, this is a vibrant, colorful cotton cloth. It is versatile and can be used to make a range of different items such as hats, earrings, blazers and shoes.
Nigerians the world over are known for their fashion sense. When Nigerians do it they do it big and with style, this applies not just to fashion but to many other things as well. Unlike many African countries that have neglected their traditional wears, Nigeria has embraced its. Native clothing is worn proudly not just on the shores of Nigeria but globally around the world, from London to New York to Toronto to Paris and Dubai.
Having said this, Nigerians do embrace English wears as well. But they usually go further, putting their own Nigerian spin on things. For example you can find Ankara inspired t shirts, shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies.
African tailoring skills
A major factor that has allowed Nigerians and by extension Africans to enjoy such good fashion sense, is the many skilled tailors on offer.
In the western world tailoring has become a luxury and a very costly one at that, with bespoke clothing regularly costing thousands of dollars. This kind of pricing is way out of the league of the average joe, who often has to settle for less, with mass produced ready-wear clothing that you’ll find in the high street shops. Being ready to wear, these clothes will never look as good or as classy as a tailor made dress or shirt.
It has not always been like this in the West. Prior to the industrial revolution and globalization, clothing was not mass produced. It just couldn’t be, given the level of technical development at the time. Instead people of all classes would have a go-to tailor, who would make their clothes to size. The advancement of technology has meant that things can be produced much faster and cheaper and has thus made tailoring a “haute couture” thing i.e. high end exclusive.
This may be true in the rest of the world but in Nigeria, like much of Africa, it’s the complete opposite. Given the relatively slow adoption of technology and inefficiencies in the supply chain, Nigeria has an whole army of talented tailors and designers. Almost everyone has a personal tailor to call their own, rich or poor it doesn’t matter.
Formal or informal event? It’s still tailored. Kids school trousers? Buy material go to your tailor. Wedding dress? Buy material go to the tailor. Suit for work? Buy material go to the tailor. You get the picture right?
The world has undoubtedly taken notice. Now there are many international fashion events hosted in African cities. With that comes all the glitz and gold. And so Africa has cemented its place on the global fashion map.
What now? Well, lets continue to leverage the unique advantages that we have as Africans. Using our sense of style and ingenuity, to raise our fashion game to the next level. Who knows, in a few years time, the world can have a few new fashion capitals: on the African continent that is.
Silver Ravan SR is a luxury African brand with interests in fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Be sure to check out some of our exclusive products.