Africa is the second largest continent in the world and also the second most populous continent in the world, with over one billion people. It is rich in human and natural resources, including beautiful and colourful fabrics and designs.
The importance of African fashion cannot be over-emphasized, as this trend has gone far beyond the shores of Africa. This has showcased the rich cultural heritage of her people and created an avenue for growth and exposure to the African fashion trend. Some of his African fashion trends include the Ankara, Iro and Buba, Dashiki, Djellaba, kente, Boubou and Atoghu, just to name a few.
The Ankara or African wax prints are common in West Africa and central Africa. They are industrially produced colourful cotton cloth with batik-like printing. One of the significant features of this material is the difference in colour intensity of the front and back sides and the difference in quality due to the manufacturing process. Some designs that can be done with this material include formal and casual wear. Perfect for that interview you are going for or that party you are about to rock.
The Kente is a Ghanaian textile material made of hand-woven cotton and straps of silk. It is the national cloth of Ghana, worn by most of the southern ethnic groups of Ghana. What makes this fabric special is that it was once a symbol of royalty for the Ghanaian people, and it was only worn by the royal families in the Ashanti, Ewe and Dagbon regions of Ghana. But presently, the kente cloth can be worn by anyone and everyone to commemorate special occasions and celebrations.
The Djellaba or jellaba is a unisex long, loose-fitting robe with sleeves that is common in the regions of north Africa. They are traditionally made of wool and come in various shapes and colours. Still, they can also be made with cotton, called lightweight Djellaba. Some of these Djallaba can be made to include a hood called gob, which can be of great importance as it can help protect the wearer from harsh sunlight, snow, rain and sand blown from strong winds.
The Djellaba can also be made for a specific climate: summer and winter. The difference in the various Djallaba is that the winter djellaba is made from coarse wool. In contrast, the summer-friendly Djallaba is made from cotton to maximize comfort and protection from harsh climate temperatures.
The Boubou, or grand Boubou, is a flowing wide-sleeved robe worn around most of west Africa and some parts of north Africa. The Boubu is known by many different names across Africa, further portraying its popularity among African people. For the west African people in Nigeria, among the ethnic Yoruba people, it is called Agbada, while it is called Babban Riga by the Hausa, and for the Senegalese, it is known as kaftan or M’boubou.
The Boubou was commonly worn by nomads from sub-Saharan Africa through the Sahara desert to protect from the extreme temperatures during the day and the sub-freezing temperature at night. it was often paired with a large turban that covers the entire face, and I know what you are thinking. That doesn’t sound fashionable, right?
Of course not. That was how it was originally worn by the sub-Saharan people. But when it came to the west and other African regions, it became famous and only worn on special ceremonies and occasions. Islamic Eid festival, Friday mosque prayers, and weddings are perfect occasions. The complete boubou attire consists of narrow ankle tie-up trousers called Shokoto by the Yoruba people, a long-sleeved shirt and a wide open sleeveless gown. These are the three integral pieces of clothing that make up the Boubou.
Iro and buba or iro ati buba as it is commonly called by the native Yoruba women of west Africa Nigeria is an attire that consists of five pieces of clothing which include the Iro, which is a large wrapper that is tied tightly around the waist. The Buba blouse, worn on the upper part of the body, is a headgear called the Gele, which is quite famous among the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Pele is a small fabric tied on the top of the Iro, and finally, the Iborun is a scarf placed over the woman’s left shoulder.
The iro and buba trended massively in the early 70s among Nigerian women. It was the best fashion statement a woman could make at that time. However, it’s still an essential piece of clothing reserved for special occasions and ceremonies in Nigeria. But the recent trend is slightly different from the original trend in the 70s. Now the Pele and the Iborun have been removed from the pair and the original. Aso oke material can now be replaced with other fabrics like cotton, lace and chiffon.
The Dashiki, which comes from the Hausa word dan ciki, which means shirt or innerwear, is a colourful garment covering the body’s top half. This is primarily used in west Africa and east Africa. The dash ki can come in either a formal or informal design based on the occasion, convenience and plan of use. And these designs vary from simple draped clothing designs to tailored suits, loose-fitting garments with an ornate v-shaped collar, and embroidered neck and sleeve lines. They can optionally be worn with Kufi cap.
It is said that the original dashiki design was made by a Dutch designer Toon Van De Mannaker, inspired by the Ethiopian embroidered tunic worn by the Ethiopian women.
TheDashiki comprises three primary forms: the use of matching Kufi and Sokoto, which means trousers, ankle length shirt with matching Kufi and Sokoto and lastly, Dashiki and matching Sokoto with a flowing gown on top of it that is called an Agbada and many more designs.
And lastly, the Atoghu or Toghu, commonly called fabric from Bamenda in the northwestern region of Cameroon, is quite popular among the Bamileke people of Cameroon. Original y the Toghu was only meant for royals, and it was a symbol of superiority over commoners. The Toghu is made of black velvet fabric embroidered with colourful patterns and can be used to grace any occasion and ceremony.
The elegance and class that can be created with these wonderful styles and fabrics, don’t ever say the African continent is only famous for producing great afrobeat music, that’s what you can come to appreciate. . So what are you waiting for? Go get ur fabrics and make your designs now so you can join the train and share in the rich cultural heritage of Africa.