Keeping up with fashion trends could be likened to the hybrid form of satisfying the basic human need of clothing. Any fabric can be used to cover nakedness; which is the essence of clothing.
Notwithstanding, modern society has transcended into using clothing to tell about your personality, tribe, beliefs, likes etc. clothing is branding. What we wear speaks a lot of who we are, as well as our origin. Clothing is a label to the human body.
Different races have some particular fashion piece that speaks who they are even before boxing out their language. The English are known for their suits, T-shirts, jeans, polo, sneakers, etc. The Indian women are wrapped up in their Saris and Dupattas.
Similarly, the African tribe has some fashion pieces that tell of its origin. The 54 countries in Africa share these items in common with differences to styling, fabric and reason of occasion.
In Africa, head wear is an important decoration that completes a dress or tells of the origin. African male and females adorn their heads with a specific headwear that speaks of their race. Generally, African women knot their heads in scarves or shawls adorned with African prints. In Nigeria, a particular variant of African scarf is termed Gele worn mostly by eastern, southern and western women from that part of the country.
The Akpu Agu and Red cap is the emblem to tell that a man is from the eastern part of Nigeria. On top of the head of a northern man in Nigeria, is the Fula or Kanuri cap commanding respect and originality to the wearer. The Kanuri or Fula cap is termed Kofia in East African nations; Tanzania and Kenya. Scarves and caps are also made with the common Aso-oke material in western Nigeria and it can be worn by any gender.
Other indigenous caps worn by African men are the Tarboosh caps popular among Moroccan men, Fila Gobi and Abeti Aja worn by Yoruba men in Nigeria, Glaniclo by Ivorycoast men and Tengade for Senegalese males.
African fabrics, prints and materials
The list of fabrics for the African continent is inexhaustible. Certainly these prints or fabrics are in vibrant colours and solid designs to keep a pair of wandering eyes gazing. The universal African prints are the Ankara, Dashiki and lace fabrics for the contemporary African styles.
However, there are specific fabrics from each country and culture in Africa. Any of the African prints can be sewn into a traditional or modern style for both male and female.
For example, Nigeria is home to Adire, George, Isi-Agu, Aso-Oke and Ukara-Ekpe. The Ukara Ekpe can also be found in Cameroon. All the way to Northern Africa is the Bogolan fabric found in Mali. Barkcloth is worn by Ugandans and Kente is for West Africa’s Ghana.
The Kuba fabric is distinctive to the people of Democratic Republic of Congo while Shweshwe is peculiar in South Africa. East African nations Tanzania and Kenya are distinctive with the Kikoy fabric. Kenya is also known for the Kanga and Kitenge material.
Another fashion piece that is engraved in African culture is beads. Beads are symbols of royalty, fertility, spirituality, sexuality, masculinity, femininity, manhood, womanhood, sacredness, protection and celebration. It is a core part of African heritage. Even if one wears English attire but tosses a bead around the neck, that action is apt to Africanize that whole attire. Across African tribes, there are different beads in sizes, colours and materials. Beads can be made from wood, bone, clay, cowry, metal, glass, stone etc.
Beads are styled into basic accessories such as earrings, anklets, necklaces and bracelets. Waist beads are solely for females and it is used to emphasize feminine traits. The neck beads worn by African men mostly deduce strength and agility.