Fashion’s elite and pineapples in the West

For me, this year has been quite eventful for African fashion outside of the continent. I am no professor of fashion, just someone with an opinion, but I definitely think the tropical sun shone like a lighthouse on fashion capitals of the world. A few weeks after I started blogging, I met up with a friend in Starbucks (I think this was before their tax avoidance scandal) and she quizzed me about my new path to ‘bloggersville’ and stated “I never, knew you were into fashion!” To be honest I was never ‘not into fashion’, but only started taking a real interest since it became more relevant and inclusive! Every year during the Fashion Week showcase, the usual players receive the most media attention, but this year I felt that African inspired fashion from African and non-African designers was allowed to take a bow on the runway.

Metro London newspaper had a spread on African Fashion Week in the Capital, with singer Shingai Shoniwa from English inde group, Noisettes. According to the article African fashion is ‘booming’.
Photo: Metro London newspaper had a spread on African Fashion Week in the Capital, with singer Shingai Shoniwa from English inde group, Noisettes. According to the article African fashion is ‘booming’.

Not very inspired by what I see on the high street, I’ve been spending less on clothes/shoes etc; partly because I am waiting for the sales but also because there are few things able to break the magnetic field between my cash and my hands. However, recently I bought some pink leopard print wedge trainers with blue laces (I know what you’re thinking, but trust me they look good! Lol) that were in the sale – I do love a bargain! Anyway, I think the fashion industry is opening up; and it would be nice to see other cultures represented in the mainstream, such as Asian, Caribbean, South American and Middle Eastern…. everyone has a story to tell so why not? We all wear clothes don’t we?

Moschino at London Fashion Week 2012
Moschino gets fruity at London Fashion Week 2012

Some people take fashion very seriously;  it should be an expression of individual taste, either way it does mean something. On many African printed fabrics such as those found in Ghana and Ivory Coast, some of the symbols you see do actually have a meaning and are referred to as Adinkra symbols (click to find out more). In Ghana there are two traditional methods of printing Adinkra symbols; using a block stamp made of metal or wood and screen-printing. Originally the stamps were made from calabash, a vine fruit used in many parts of the tropical world not just for food, but as a container for all sorts of purposes including carrying water and housing large volumes of Shea butter (the latest wonder of the cosmetic industry; well the Body Shop think so and import their Shea butter from Ghana). The stamps were hand carved and the dyes used to print were extracted from the bark and roots of the Badie and kuntunkuni trees. The tree matter was soaked in water, pounded and sieved, before being used as dye.  Here are some symbols and meanings according to the Ghanaian people:

ADINKRAHENE – “Chief of the adinkra symbols” signifies greatness, charisma and leadership (Photo:
DUAFE signifies beauty and cleanliness; symbols of desirable feminine qualities
DUAFE signifies beauty and cleanliness; symbols of desirable feminine qualities (Photo:
NEA OPE SE OBEDI HENE – “He who wants to be king”
From the expression “Nea ope se obedi hene daakye no, firi ase sue som ansa” meaning “He who wants to be king in the future must first learn to serve.” (Photo:

African Fashion Week London 2012 was hailed as a success and looks like it may be a permanent fixture. Some people argue there is still some way to go but I think things are moving forward, and hopefully African fashion / African designers will be a staple ingredient of the fashion market all over the world, as well as other cultures. I am happy the West is recognizing African fashion, I just hope it origins and personality are not forgotten or diluted. If you like it, take it as it is…here it is:
House of Tayo collection at Africa Fashion Week London 2012
House of Tayo collection at Africa Fashion Week London 2012 (photo: AFWL)

Ghana Fashion and Design Week 2012

Sports brand Nike  dabbled their footwear in Paisely prints this year in a special collection for British department store Liberty (pictures from their website). These designs originated from Iran thousands of years ago and are called Boteh Jegheh. The Tamil tribe of India were known to favour these prints referring to them as Mankolam.  It was not until the 17th century the East India Company started to import the prints to Europe where the designs were christened with it western name Paisely after a town in Scotland.

doubleaad : AdelinA


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