As a fashion designer, it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for sources of inspiration – always and everywhere. Luckily, we live in an age in which we have easy access to all types of creative resources, from social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, to videos and audiobooks on YouTube, to cheap airlines that make it affordable for us to jet to a different part of the country or the world for glamorous events and showcases.
Despite all these modern sources of ideas, knowledge and how-tos, there is one “ancient” tool we always turn back to for information and visual escape: books. Whether you favour textbooks over glossy pages with illustrations or photography or vice versa, certain books can quickly turn into the most treasured items in your living room. They allow you to absorb new knowledge and information in a relaxed setting and at your own pace; they allow for a moment of escape and encourage dreams, and they can become our biggest motivators in terms of career and lifestyle.
The six books on this list have been selected by Fashionomics Africa as the best titles for any African fashion designer to have in their collection – whether they are just starting out or are already established in their careers. Browse through these exciting titles and start putting together your Wishlist on Amazon today!
African Textiles by Christopher Spring
Let’s start at the beginning here and focus on the textiles we use to create our unique garments. Christopher Spring’s African Textiles and African Textiles Today delve deep into the long-standing tradition of storytelling through textiles and cloth. With a strong focus on the techniques and textiles used, this book also explores how materials were adapted overtime and continue to flourish on the African and international market. Featuring detailed photographs of African textile art ranging from Kente cloth to Ukara, these books will fill you with a wealth of new ideas inspired by old tradition.
African-Print Fashion Now! A Story of Taste, Globalization, And Style by Suzanne Gott, Kristyne S. Loughran, Betsy D. Quick and Leslie W. Rabine
As the title of this book already suggests, African-Print Fashion Now! explores the history of what we have come to know as African-print cloth: from its early history in West and Central Africa, to the expansion of production following independence movements, to the transnational youth styles we see today. Featuring black-and-white portraits showcasing the print fashion styles of the 1960s and 70s, interviews and quotes from Africa’s most talented creators and photographs of fashion shows by the likes of Adama Paris, Ikiré Jones, Lanre da Silva Ajayi and Lisa Folawiyo, this book will be one you’ll turn to over and over again.
Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress (African Expressive Cultures) by Jean Allman
Written by professor of African and African-American and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jean Allman, Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress features eleven essays by, predominantly, female history, art and anthropology scholars offering a diverse perspective on the topic of 20th century African fashion and its link to political expression. Examining early colonial Zanzibar’s expression of freedom through fashion to the headdresses of Somali women in inner-city Minneapolis, these essays provide us with a better understanding of the importance of style in African and pan-African environments. Jean Allman et all, make the reader aware of the political statements and forms of expression that can be found in African style choices, and how these link to Africa’s early history.
Fashion Illustration Africa – A New Generation by Tapiwa Matsinde and Zakirah Rabaney
If you ever find yourself running into a complete mental block whilst sketching your latest design ideas, this is the best book you could possibly turn to. Tapiwa Matsinde and Zakirah Rabaney’s book, Fashion Illustration Africa – A New Generation, is an inspiring sourcebook featuring fashion illustrations by Africa’s twenty-three most talented fashion illustrators and designers making a mark in the industry through social media and other digital channels. Featuring quotes and the story of each individual creator, this book will leave you with hope in the new generation of African designers “championing diversity in a global industry that tends to be defined by one model of beauty and style.”
Fashion Africa – A Visual Overview of Contemporary African Fashion by Jacqueline Shaw
With more than twenty years of experience working as a fashion designer, Jacqueline Shaw knows fashion inside and out. This is what prompted her to become a coach and motivational speaker focused on supporting entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes in their quest for sustainable solutions and sourcing strategies designed to help their African textile and manufacturing businesses grow. Her book, Fashion Africa – A Visual Overview of Contemporary African Fashion, is a guide to contemporary African designers, companies, ethical manufacturers and sustainable materials – from cottons to silk – techniques such as batik and weaving, and the great natural resources in various regions of the African diaspora. According to eco-fashion expert, Sass Brown, Fashion Africa “helped popularize the new wave of African design” – in other words, this gem should not be missing from your bookshelf.
Women in African Print Fashion: Adult Coloring Book Volume 1 by Happiness Bundu Akaniro
If you’re in desperate need of a break from work but still want to stay immersed in the world of fashion and design, then Happiness Bundu Akaniro’s adult colouring book, Women in African Print Fashion is for you. This colouring book is comprised of thirty beautifully detailed black and white drawings of stylish African women wearing Ankara creations, for you to colour in. This is the perfect tool to help you wind down and relax after a long day of sketching, sewing and draping without stepping out of the realms of creativity. In choosing your colours for each image and studying the mesmerizing illustrations as you go along, you will find yourself getting new ideas – if not for fashion designs, then for promotional posters, flyers and the like.