Let me freely speak about African Fashion Today,
Because chances are, no one, is speaking for us,
Not the mainstream media, be it the exclusive print ones you know, or the small scale media, be it the many blogs or sites you visit.
So let me freely speak about African Fashion Today,
Because chances are, no one is speaking to us,
By us, I am referring to daughters and even sons,
of that great continent that some have falsely described as “the heart of darkness.”
Africa, the place I call home, is more than that,
And our fashion has no match, not in Paris or New York, Milan or London
African Fashion is as individual as it is collective with the plethora of aso-ebis you see worn by women and men, particularly those in Nigeria-my frame of reference.
No two woman is ever dressed alike despite the use of the same fabric. Visit a Nigerian wedding next time to see what I mean. Our fashion is as individual as it is collective and we are proud, oh so proud of it. We may not be featured in the next Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar, but we are on the streets every single day in our own unique style in a country 178 million strong, a continent with over 1 billion people. So let me freely speak about African Fashion Today, because chances are no one is speaking for it’s 1 billion people or the over 1 billion other scattered everywhere else in love with that which we call African Fashion.
I grew up in Nigeria, in a home where our clothes were ours, down to the size and fabric used, be it Adire print, custom-made to your color specification, or Ankara bought at Aswani or Balogun market, two markets that hold a dear place in my heart, not only for mastering the art of bargaining, but for the sea of fabrics everywhere. This is where our fashion begins, in the hands of the ever trusted Adire maker or the marketplace. From there, you go on to meet your favorite tailor, not seamstress (as described often in the West), but a tailor, one that can be described as the person that knows every curve or fold of your body. Our tailors, especially when you meet the right one that understands your style, is a thing of joy on itself.
You will never, ever, ever experience this feeling in an Western country, not in America or Europe, except of course if you have the money that is required to land an appointment with the famous designers there. But in Africa, Nigeria to be specific, the tailor is yours, all yours, for 10, 30, 60 minutes, or longer if required. They are attentive too. Do you want pockets on the side? No problem. What about a tapered waist with sleeves that are billowy? Not a problem as well. This is fashion as we know it. Attention to detail=African Fashion, Personalized service=African Fashion, Your unique sense of style=African Fashion, and use of your own unique fabrics=African fashion.
There is more to African Fashion that few media outlets will ever portray, than I can ever share, but it is important that we begin to speak about it, describe it and share stories about it that no one is sharing or discussing, in an intelligent manner, in a sustainable manner. So let me freely speak about that which I love today, African Fashion
Because chances are, no one is speaking for us, to us, or about us. But I hope and pray that the critical discussions and thoughts and perceptions about African Fashion can begin Today!!!
Image credit: Zuvaa