I have been away for awhile. My sincere apologies as I was preoccupied with my day job. I am back and hopefully will be around all summer. It’s been awhile and will try to make sense of all that I have missed in the past couple of months. First is a series I came across while away and it’s entitled “State of Undress” hosted by Hailey Gates for Viceland. No homo here, but I truly love Hailey Gates. She gets it 100%. The point of this show is to use fashion as an entry point to talk about identity issues and politics and sort of underreported cultural phenomenon and to be able to show both the light and the dark of these things. Fashion means so much more to people in many different contexts and I love how her docuseries did a splendid job to showcase this. It was also amazing to view how fashion would lend itself to exploring all the avenues that she wanted to explore in the countries she visited especially in war-torn regions like Pakistan or censored countries like China. I loved all her reactions with every place she visited from Pakistan to Russia and even Congo. I most especially love how she champions the need for representation of people and their fashion beyond that which is commonly seen in the media these days. Continue reading
“If you call her a woman, African woman no go gree, she go say, she go say I be lady oh.” These are the lines of one of Fela Kuti’s hits titled “Lady.” I am a die hard fan of Fela and his music. Although he passed away a long time ago, like other great legends in music (i.e Bob Marley, Michael Jackson etc), his music continues to live on past his death and it remains a great example of what being original entails. It is from this context that I suggest that for the future we want with African fashion, we have to be as original as Fela Kuti who managed to propel Afrobeat music to new heights. Continue reading
Have you seen the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast.” In it, Gaston, once wonderfully handsome and muscled, is made utterly ridiculous in the beginning as he examines himself in every mirror he passes. Beast in the end, wins beauty’s love not through his looks, but his gentle awkwardness, his eagerness to please her and his distaste for violence. This movie draws attention to how people’s values or behaviors or even appearance can be interpreted by others. It’s significance also lies in its ability to redefine the terms governing beauty. It is this redefinition that precisely will propel African Fashion forward to new heights. Continue reading
I recently read that engaging in satisfying and optimally challenging interest-driven activities i.e. “sparks,” can provide an enhanced sense of well-being and happiness. Furthermore, if you immerse yourself in an activity that you truly love, it will generate a range of positive experiences i.e. “flow” that can be so engrossing and exhilarating that it becomes its own reward, a vital source of happiness, and a driving force of achievement in life. Like our feature image, this “spark” described as a ‘passion for a self-identified interest, skill or capacity that metaphorically lights a fire in one’s life, providing energy, joy, purpose and direction’’ and “flow”characterized by “complete absorption in what one does and routinely finding deep enjoyment in the activity,” are what fashion from Africa desperately needs.
Happy International Women’s Day and here is to all the women out there, you days be memorable, your nights be pleasurable and your dreams be attainable always…
In honor of this grand day, my hope for the future of African Fashion is resilience.
Resilience, they say is when a person, a thing, or even an object defies the odds and show positive outcomes, despite enduring adversity. It is a measure of an individual’s strength and an end product of buffering processes that do not eliminate risks and stress in people’s lives, but allows individuals to deal with these challenges effectively. Being an African Fashion Brand isn’t easy. Sure, there are great success stories like Lisa Folawiyo of Nigeria being selected as the top 500 influencers of Fashion globally, or how Zuvaa marketplace is making African Fashion seem very accessible. The list though is not very long though . Which leads me to ask the following questions: how do African Fashion brands cope with adversity? Are there any protective factors that may mitigate the effects of these adversity? What, if any role, does the community, individuals, you, me, play in shaping resilient African fashion brands?
Granted, most African Fashion brands will fail numerous times before they become household names. In many cases, majority can’t scale, despite an impressive showing at the latest African Fashion Week in their home towns, and our people, myself included, just simply have a hard time patronizing some fashion brands, and it is due to issues such as accessibility, clean tailoring etc. No approach you take with African fashion will guarantee success, hence the need to explore why some, despite the numerous challenges they face, defy the odds as we know it. It is my hope that as we begin to build the future we want for African Fashion, we can would also explore the role resilience plays.
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. Continue reading
Power, they say, is the ability of one person or a brand to influence another. Influence, they also say, occurs when you are respected, liked, or even desired. These things to me, both power and influence, are the reasons why I believe in the future of African fashion. But where does African fashion stand? Feeling powerless in the global fashion industry as they flock from New York to Paris can create major tensions in the future we want for African fashion and may hinder performance given that key African Fashion designers are not given a spotlight in the same way that designers from New York or London are receiving. The ineffective use of the power of African Fashion in turn leaves people with the feeling that its time has not yet come or that it will never make strides in the same way that fashion from Europe for example, is admired. I humble disagree. Continue reading