Africa is a continent pioneering design trends around the world. It’s no surprise that all are watching the innovation from this continent. Fashion has taken on a new dimension. African fashion has a defined voice in light of “supposedly following Western fashion trends” because local fashion wearers are creating new trends within the interpretation of international fashion trends. There are certain movements affecting local fashion trends; these include: hair, exhibitionism, dapper appearances and the colour black.
My Hair/My Passion
My Hair/My Passion was born off of the rainbow hair trend which was largely seen on runways and the streets in 2015. This trend was directly translated to South Africans but it also took on a new appearance. Rainbow hair is not easily applied to African hair, it involves the use of peroxide in order to apply colour and this destroys hair. Pioneers responded to this challenge by using hair extensions. My Hair/My Passion also encompasses how individuals have made their hair part of their accessories and either created outfits based on their hair or created hairstyles based on their outfits.
I Am Art
One of the most exciting local trends is defining street style in Pretoria. I Am Art defines individuals who create completely original and often outlandish outfits. This movement falls heavily onto fashionable thrift clothes markets that are monopolising Pretoria, such as The Social Market, where these individuals will in a sense exhibit their outfits. I Am Art allows individuals to live out their fashion where ever they go and although this movement has origins in Johannesburg, the Pretoria movement has spiralled into an unknown future.
The Dapper Gentleman
The trend of smartly dressed individuals has been on the rise for a while. It’s origins in South Africa stem from The Sartists in Johannesburg and draw heavily from the gentlemen representing Congolese fashion. This movement continues to gain momentum across Africa, with individuals like Noble Igwe in Nigeria and Muriuki Kagiri in Kenya picking up the well dressed mantle. Women have been able to adopt the trend in recent months because the movement has drawn in elements from the 80s, such as high-waisted pant suits and silk shirts.
It is exciting to note how fashion bloggers, Adanna Kpaduwa, are adding on a new counterpart to this movement by including African printed fabrics, much like Chu Suwannapha‘s take on fashion in South Africa.
Black Will Always be the New Black
Fashion and politics have always been lovingly intertwined. Monochromatic wear has been quite popular in recent months but it is the colour black that has stayed in the forefront of How To Wear It guides and street style images across the world. The colour is special in the South African context because it was used to define the #FeesMustFall movement with a late notice going out to protesters to wear black during the Union Buildings march last year and its inclusion in the much discussed For Black Girls Only event which took place this year.
Wearers have taken on the colour using interesting textures, fabrics and effects to breath new life into their monochromotic looks. These looks showcase timeless individuals. It is said that, “Black is the new black,” but this can be rephrased as, “Black will always be the new black.” It will be interesting to see how this look is translated into South African winter wear as we approach colder weather.
These overreaching trends manage to pull in a variety of international trends. Africa is the ultimate pioneer in terms of style.
Photos by: Yetunde Dada