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On the New Golden Age of African Fashion

  • 2 min read

A diverse and vibrant African fashion scene has always existed, but it suddenly feels as if the world is taking notice, and the industry is beginning to pay it its due. An outgrowth of this newfound attention is a desire by African designers to reappropriate their cultural traditions and to create works that are uniquely and determinedly African. Although Africa has long inspired Western fashion, African designers are now weaving a new aesthetic that reflects a continent-wide demand—for cultural reappropriation and the invention of a language exclusive to Africa. From Cape Town to Abidjan, and from Marrakech to Kigali, designers, photographers, visual artists, and bloggers are shaping what Senegalese sociologist Alioune Sall, in his prescient book Africa 2025: What Possible Futures for Sub-Saharan Africa?, calls “a cultural renaissance.” In the most optimistic of the four scenarios presented in 2003 by the founder and executive director of the African Futures Institute, Sall writes that this renaissance “allows African societies to look back at their past in a positive light. It allows Africans to mark their territory. It allows them to invent themselves in the world of the twenty-first century.” This renaissance champions African cultures, emancipation of the African people, Pan-Africanism, and freedom of expression.