Where the fashion revolution is really going on
While many people believe that it is an honor for African tribes to be represented on huge catwalks, you would never guess why exactly the complete opposite is happening. Designers have been using inspiration from the continent throughout the last decades and it is definitely not as simple as we might believe.
From Yves Saint Laurent in 1976, Galliano for Dior in 1997, McQueen in 2000, and in 2012, a wide variety ranging from Burberry Prorsum, Balenciaga, Roberto Cavalli to Louis Vuitton, luxury brands have been taken advantage of the great marketing and uniqueness the continents’ style brings. They have not however, told the world exactly where (and who) they borrowed inspiration from. Not only that, but many African countries feel disappointed in knowing that they are all labeled as “Africa”, no matter the huge differences in culture, tastes, and styles many countries in it may have.
The fact of letting the world assume that anything with the world “African” means colorful, tribal, and exotic is the same as putting Europe in a small 3-world description box, and describing in these words countries as different as Germany or Spain. Africa, with a population of over 1 billion, has a vast variety of African cities, each with unalike influences, inspirations and priorities. It’s time to face the concept that a product made by a designer inspired in the Maasaii tribe is not the same as one from Johannesburg, even if they are both African based.
How can we start changing this? Well, Africa’s designers are leading a reawakening that is showing people where their true inspiration comes from. For example; fashion designer Anthony Mulli uses traditional beads from his culture to create exclusive contemporary pieces, and Lagos based Amaka Osakwe, is currently reworking on adire and ase-oke (indigo dyed cloth and hand loomed woven cloth) which has won her international acclaim. Now you why this is where the fashion revolution is really happening.