Hello and welcome to another glorious week, a week where I seek to discuss the aso-ebi custom and why the time for sustainable African fashion is now. Let me start with the aso-ebi custom. Truth is we are living in an era where overabundance is commonplace. In African countries like Nigeria, (my frame of reference), people have disposable income to spare and they use it for clothes. Weddings are a pure example of the overabundance that I am talking about. Go to any Nigerian wedding over the weekend and you will most definitely observe the culture of overabundance that I am talking about. None of the weddings you attend in Nigeria are alike and many people are not wearing the same things to the weddings they attend. In fact, our aso-ebi custom is so commonplace place that people have ranted and raved and shared their love/hate relationship with this tradition. One wedding may opt for navy blue, another red and you are stuck buying and buying and buying aso-ebi’s that you may never ever wear again.
For those who do not know, aso-ebi which means cloth of the family, is what family members/friends of the bride and groom wear in support of their grand occasion. Aso-ebis are not only limited to weddings as they are also present at funerals too. Aso-ebi are worn so frequently that I believe that they can be classified as part of the category of fast fashion seen in the West. The similarities are there. Like fast fashion such as H&M or Zara, aso-ebis are available at all price levels. Most people seem to be able to afford it as they buy it whether they have the money or not. We are living in an era where aso-ebi is also disposable. People and weddings want variety and so they go for colors never worn before or fabrics never used before so as to distinguish their event from the rest. This means that many people are buying more and more aso-ebis and lord only knows where they are storing them. I will not be surprised to see Ghana-must-go bags full or aso-ebis or old metal suitcases full of them.
Interest in aso-ebi is also at an all time high thanks to social media and the influx of bellanaija’s asoebibella. One only needs to follow their hashtag on instagram to see what I mean. For ever 1 aso-ebi image they feature, there are 15 more that did not make the cut despite tagging #bellanaijawedding. Aso-ebi with is propensity for change is not going anywhere anytime soon in Nigeria so long as there is social media. However, how future generations of Nigerian deal with overabundance thanks to our aso-ebi culture is of paramount importance to the welfare of our country.
So the time is right for Africans, Nigerians everywhere to embrace sustainable fashion. There is nothing for example wrong with wearing this aso-ebi I have showcased in this post of the owners sell them. No one will ever connect that it was worn by them before. Furthermore increased awareness of the damages caused by over-consuming or just simply storing and storing needs to be shared. I realize that your aso-ebi has value and you may even dream of the day you pass it on to your family members. But honestly, while this may work for some, it just may be far-fetched for others. You know that the aso-ebi will just remain where it is and those heirs of yours will move on to the latest fashion in Nigeria. I know that we have a long way to go with sustainable fashion and style in Africa. But we can try to take baby steps so that we protect mother Africa from pollution and environmental degradation. It is time that we build a culture in Africa where people actively look for clothes or even aso-ebis that are considered responsible. Each of us has the option to choose where, when, or how we spend or choose not to spend our money on clothes. I like to think that you and me are agents of change and so we should choose to start asking questions with regards to what happens to all the aso-ebi’s people accumulate over time. I have a vision where we can stem the current tide of overabundance of aso-ebis in Nigeria. It is my hope that once I am ready to unveil this vision, you will join me in making aso-ebi green.
Image credit: Aso-ebi bella instagram