Just as Africa is not one big country, African print comes in many distinct types of styles applied to diverse fabrics, with their own printing techniques and purposes, Super Wax, Dutch Java, Ankara, Bogolan, Batik, Bazin, Kente, as gorgeous as they are, African prints are slowly taking over the world of fashion.
We have long moved on from the idea of African design being simply Africa centered, in the past couple of years it has made it onto catwalks in Paris, New York, Milan and beyond and of course, as with any competitive market, there will always be new talent changing the game.
These fabrics come in vibrant colours and outstanding designs, modified in different ways; one can refer to them as a work of art the texture of material used for African prints are mostly made out of cotton and the designs are numerous and colourful, the trendiest African print today is the African Wax print fabrics, It is made out of printed patterns and wax from a fabric that is 100% cotton.
If you’ve been paying close attention to the development of African fashion generally and African print specifically, it wouldn’t be difficult to see how both influence the fashion industry as a whole sure, we’ve become accustomed to seeing these “exotic” and exuberant designs popping up every now and then on runways and in fashion papers, but these days fashion brands like Givenchy, Tory Burch, Stella McCartney, Burberry Prorsum, Anna Sui and Junya Watanabe have devoted collections to Africa, and made it their business to consistently integrate wax and other prints rooted in motherland culture within their repertoire.
The number of celebrities who have since adopted Ankara and wax-style prints are from Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Solange Knowles, to Lady Gaga and Anna Wintour Seeing the dash to incorporate these authentic textiles and how the desire for them has grown exponentially over the past few years, it could be that we’ve finally entered a new era where African print becomes a permanent fixture, a welcomed addition.
Another popular African print mostly worn with off the runway trends is the Dashiki Shirt you can find in most West African countries It came into fashion sometime in the late 70′s or early 80′s then disappeared for a while now it has resurfaced as a popular and trendy.
One well-known Africa-involved ethical brand is Edun. Its new designer Sharon Wauchob who visited East Africa for the first time was struck by “the freshness as far as our industry is concerned. We’ve tried other countries like India for so many trends, but here are crafts that have not been explored in terms of [western] fashion.
African street fashion when it comes to the length of African print dresses for women, the tradition calls for longer skirts. Today, you can find various lengths – from knee-high to flowing ballroom lengths print skirts, that goes with worldwide fashion trends.
In African fashion today, names like Lanre Da-Silva Ajayi, Thula Sindi, Deola Segoe, Ozwald Boateng and more are praised in the hallways of fashion houses. Let our eyes not wonder far away from home another famous designer working in African Fashion is Ann Mcreath, who studied in Edinburgh but worked in Kenya for three years inspired by the colours, craft and culture, she focused her fashion efforts on trade instead of aid and launched the fashin house KikoRomeo to help create employment in Kenya as well as ready to wear and custom-made fashion, accessories and footwear.
The runways features designs from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya and Morocco — but also from the diaspora, including Britain and the Caribbean.
According to research about 310 million people on the continent are considered middle class today, making this a huge market for a wide array of consumer products among which apparel and luxury goods rank the highest brands such as Asos, Gucci, Zara, H&M, Mango, Topshop and Diesel are now available to African consumers, with designers becoming very aware of the opportunity that Africa represents from a profit-margin perspective, and it would appear inevitable that they adapt their offering to the market who’s buying.
Stephanie Hogg, founder of Sierra Leone-based NearFar, believes that “it is possible to create sustainable employment through fusing African creativity with western demand for fashion.” NearFar creates printed playsuits and mini-skirts so enticing that they have been snapped up by cult chain Anthropology.
While a lot has yet to be done before African print makes its way into every mainstream closet, one thing is for sure, patterns and textures originated from the South of the Sahara have undoubtedly conquered some land in the western world.