9 Creative Fashion Styles Generated From African Land

9 Creative Fashion Styles Generated From African Land

The Cradle of Humankind and the second biggest continent globally, Africa is quickly gaining attention in the corporate world. Things are going smoothly, and economic activity is on the rise. The African Fashion Industry is also thriving and accounting for the second-largest number of jobs in developing countries after agriculture.

Plus with strategic location advantage, research proves that Africa has an inherent advantage over Asian manufacturers, taking considerably less time for shipping containers to reach Europe and the American markets. 

According to a recent study by African Cube, the global fashion industry is estimated to be worth around $1.5 trillion, and Africa's fashion industry is well over $15 billion of worth. Furthermore, with a population of over 1.2 billion, the population is expected to reach 2 billion by 2050 and 4 billion by 2100.

Hence for fashion brands, Africa is a huge opportunity for further investment. Moreover, with 200 million people from the ages of 15-24 years old, Africa is also the world's youngest continent.

African Originated Fashion Styles

In light of this information, let's take a quick look at some of the fashion styles generated from the land of mesmerizing wonders.

1.     Bogolanfini

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Originally tailored as handmade Malian cotton fabric that is traditionally dyed with fermented mud, the Bogolanfini plays a significant role in the Malian culture and identity. Today the entire world has fallen in love with the bogolan, and the cloth is now exported worldwide for use as both fashionable attire as well as fine art decoration.

For the finest source and highest quality of cloth the town of San, the capital of Cercle of San in the Segou Region of Mali, is often considered as the center of bogolanfini production. In traditional production, the men usually weave the cloth while women are the ones who dye it and deliver the finishing touches.

2.     Dashiki

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A colorful garment worn mostly in West Africa, Dashiki is also known as Kitenge in East Africa where it has been dominant wardrobe item for many Tanzanians as well as Kenyans and Somalis. The fabric usually covers the top half of the body and comes in various settings that allow it to be adorned for both formal and informal occasions.

However the most common iteration is that of an ornate V-shaped collar on a loose-fitting pullover along with embroidered neck and sleeve lines. One look and you might feel like a member of the royal family has entered the vicinity.

3.     Gomesi

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Also known as Busuuti, a Gomesi is a colorful floor-length dress that can also be used as costume wear for women belonging from the Busoga and Buganda regions. Back in 1905, Gomesi was introduced by a Goan designer. However, it was nearly a decade after that the dress gained popularity from the masses.

Essential features for Gomesi look includes brightly colored dress with short puffed sleeves and a square neckline, with well-made Gomesi requiring up to 6 meters of cloth. The dress is also usually tied with a sash below the waist and over the hips. Today people all over the world are wearing Gomesi for various occasions and social gatherings.   

4.     Grand Boubou

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Known by its more traditional name Agbada, the Grand BouBou is a favorite amongst French-speaking West African countries. This flowing wide-sleeved robe is worn by men and is called different names in various ethnic groups and languages. The Agbada is popularly decorated with complex embroidery and serves as a special attire for religious and ceremonial occasions.

In recent times it has also become an official formal attire for many countries, and antique robes are now passed down generations as heirlooms giving it a prominent status symbol. The Grand BouBou usually consists of three pieces of clothing where the wide and open-stitched sleeveless gown is adorned over a long-sleeved shirt.

5.     Habesha Kemis

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A common outfit of choice for the Habesha women, the Habesha Kemis is undoubtedly a traditional attire. This ankle-length dress is the perfect and go-to option for many Ethiopian and Eritrean women at family dinners, holidays, ceremonial invitations, and formal events.

Nowadays, you can find a huge variety and variation of this cultural form of clothing. The garment is usually made from cotton fabric, and some women may even choose to wrap a shawl around the formal dress. However, that is considered optional.

6.     Jellabiya / Jillaba

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The Jellaba or djellaba has full sleeves and is a long and loose-fitting unisex robe that people commonly adorned in the Maghreb region of North Africa. On the other hand, the Jellabiya is a collarless garment with similar features, but it has a wider cut.

7.     Kanga

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A colorful fabric similar to Kitenge, the Kanga, however, is much lighter and worn by both women and men, though occasionally, throughout the African Great Lakes region. As a printed cotton fabric, it is usually around one and a half meter square. The central part known as 'mji' differs from its four sides known as 'pindho' in Swahili.

Kanga can be used for a lot of things including as an apron, head-wrap, pot-holder, skirt, towel, and much more. Young girls who are looking for custom essay writing service UK these days are also becoming more agreeable towards adopting the African Kanga-style cloth for various usages. 

8.     Safari Shirt

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Who can forget a Safari shirt? Once you have seen it, you simply cannot decide to look the other way. Probably the least decorative garment on our list but so elegant in its simplicity that even Prince Charles chose to wear on his trip to Uluru.

This purposefully designed shirt can also be paired with trousers or shorts to complete the safari outfit for you. With its expandable pockets and cartridge loops, you simply cannot fail to identify it at first glance. 

9.     Senegalese Kaftan

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Called as the mbubb or xaftaan in the Wolof language, the Senegalese Kaftan is like pullover robe with long bell sleeves. As an ankle-length garment, the apparel choices usually entail matching pants known as tuybay in Wolof. It is almost considered formal wear only; in present times, it receives much praise during high-end parties and social gatherings.  

African Fashion Influence

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Many designers nowadays are heavily influenced by traditional and ceremonial wear of various African countries throughout the West. Africa has quickly emerged from its painful portrayal of hardships and is becoming known for its colorful fabrics.

Furthermore, highly popular movies like the Black Panther and the rest were also able to create awareness regarding the modernized looks and appeal for traditional African clothing. Surely Chadwick Boseman truly felt like an emperor whenever he wore a traditional outfit on and offset.


African fashion is growing in popularity all over the world and is quickly sweeping the masses. With vibrant colors and hues along with breezy and comfortable to wear apparel, African fashion is perfect for summer wear. I hope this post was able to offer you some meaningful insights regarding the creative fashion styles from Africa.

However as an ending note, I would just like to mention that this is neither a complete nor an exhaustive list of all the fashionable attires coming from Africa. We are simply brushing the surface as there is much more to fashion in Africa.

Author Bio

Elaine Vanessa currently works as a Sr. Research Analyst and Blog Writer at Crowd Writer and Dissertation Assistance. This is where higher education students can acquire professional essay writing service from experts specializing in their field of study. During her free time, she likes to browse through fashionable accessories online.

All comments

  1. Beverly Minyard

    I like that you mentioned that dashikis can be worn to both formal and informal occasions. My boyfriend is from Africa and his parents are coming to visit in a couple of weeks and he wants us to wear some African clothing. I think that a Dashiki would be good because it is both formal and informal!

  2. Njeri Kimotho

    Hello Elaine, As always, I love pushing the style envelope and not conform with already seen trends, I would like to set-up a meeting and share with you my latest crazy inspiring hair fashion that embraces finesse and sustainability. We do not see a lot of over-top creativity when it comes to hair as compared to clothes for wear. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Regards, Njeri Tel: +254 725 329 883

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9 Creative Fashion Styles Generated From African Land

Feb 01, 2021
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