TRADITIONAL FABRIC – THE CULTURAL FOUNDATION TO AFRICAN FASHION

Africa has been getting  lots of attention in the world of fashion. In such a highly skilled and artistic world such attention can only be a result of the advent of something new, unique as well as beautiful. So let us take a couple of steps back and appreciate where this African design emanates.

Like any other fashion subset, the African style hails from the culture of the African people. Generally it is very expressive. The African man always seems to be saying something and passing across a message. One of the ways of expression is through clothing. Traditionally made textile have always been woven with either wool or raffia like the Akwete cloth of the Igbo people of Nigeria or the Kente fabric of the Ashanti people.

The Akwete Fabric

The Akwete fabric. Source: www.afrimod.com

The Kente Fabric

The Kente Fabric of Ghana Source: i.ebayimg.com

 

The Shweshwe Fabric

The Shweshwe Fabric of South Africa Source: www.img1.etsystatic.com

 

The Kitenge Fabric of Kenya

The Kitenge Fabric of Kenya Source: img1.etsystatic.com

 

Weaving has a two-fold role in the culture of the African people. First it signifies reproduction and rebirth as believed by the Dogon people of Mali. It also enables the craft men and women to weave in colours and patterns that highlight aspects of the culture or the make the piece of fabric in question usable in a particular cultural activity or by a particular person or group of persons.

Colours speak tons in the African tradition. For instance the Ewe and the Ashanti people use black and white for funerals because it signifies both the celebration of life and the mourning of death, black also signifies maturity and an intensified spiritual energy. To the Massai people of Kenya red represents danger, brevity, strength and unity. And it is primary to their culture. Green to the Tanzanians represents natural vegetation and agricultural resources. The presences of these colours on their clothes expresses their believes and their culture, who they are.

Colourful African designs

Photo credit: www.buzznigeria.com

 

Kente of Ghana

Photo credit: www.ghanaculturepolitics.com

 

shweshwe

Shweshwe of South Africa

 

Cameroon Traditional design

Toghu fabric design from Cameroon Photo credit: www.fabafriq.com

It is no doubt that multiple bright colours, usually arranged in a number of patterns are characteristic of the African Fashion brand. At this point I am tempted to think that these aspects go only as far as the fabric used by African fashion designers, but no. Colours and pattern add an extra layer of designing consideration. In addition to the overall geometry of the dress, the designer will have to be mindful of how they align the colours and patterns. This aspect is what makes African fashion design stand out as unique.

A Designer’s touch adds the uniqueness and style in final product..

D.B.
IRepCamer

Author: Deodatus Bijengsi

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