Africa is art.
Struggle. Triumph. Experiences. Environment.
Art is fashion.
Prints. Color. Shapes. Architecture.
Africa is fashion.
Culture. Storytelling. Creativity. Originality. Truth.
Oftentimes, we see or read about “African-inspired” collections from European fashion designers. What I have struggled with is identifying what exact element draws the African “inspiration”. Is it the people? Our skin; our hair; our style; our interactions? Is it our struggle? Is it our triumph? Is it our history? Or could it quite possibly be our fashion? Our culture?
Such inquiries should truly beg the question: why us? Perhaps it should be more complex. Where in Africa is the inspiration from? Was there a landmark that sparked said creativity? Was it a specific ethnic group that inspiration was drawn from? Why did that thing draw their inspiration? Do designer runways reflect that “African-inspired” theme they were going for? Do the editorial spreads in fashion magazines accurately reflect said source of inspiration? Or was that theme just convenient? Again, why us?
We must put a stop to the vague “African-inspiration” references in the international fashion community. African designers should have proper and meaningful recognition for their contributions to the fashion industry, other than providing the avenue in which foreign designers end their creative dry spells without having the burden of crediting anyone in particular. The fashion industry should begin now to recognize where such inspiration actually comes from—the plethora of African fashion designers who tell meaningful stories and life experiences through every-day (and not-so-every-day) fashion. Instead of buying so heavily into pieces that are “African-influenced,” we should just buy straight from the source.
African designers have something special. They create work that others have tried for years to replicate, but to no avail. We are here to give credit, where credit is due.
African is fashion; and our fashion is truth.
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