African fashion dates back to the era of our fore fore fathers. They were known to wear little or no clothing at all using animal skins to cover just the genitals but as the era changes, different cultures developed their own unique techniques to produce beautiful cloths. Cotton became the most common material used to weave fabric like Ankara, the Kente cloth of Ghana, the Mud cloth of Mali and the Kuba cloth of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These fabrics were used to create the traditional African style which consists of elaborate wrappers, loose blouses, loose trousers and loose fitting robes.
Alas, with the advent of modernization, Africans ditched the traditional African look for the sophisticated “western styles”. Ankara has always been considered as the cloth of choice for the less privileged and it’s never seen on the rich and famous. Traditional wears like Aso Oke are worn only during festivities like wedding ceremonies, coronation and other special ceremonies.
African fashion has come a long way though and it has evolved from just dressing in a very traditional style like our very own Iro and buba to the modern day look which involves combining the old with the new and wearing traditional clothing in a rather fashionable western style.
Now, Ankara can be seen throttling the runways all over the world or is it the models throttling the runways in Ankara? Whichever way it is. I’ve seen collections of Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gaultier, Givenchy, Diane Von Furstenberg, Paul Smith and Gwen Stefani featuring African prints in all its glory. I’ve seen pictures of the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama rocking African prints, I’ve also seen pictures of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Solange and some other stars cladded in African prints.
However, the destiny of the Ankara didn’t just change on its own. The tides didn’t just rise without the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the earth! The designers made it happen. Am talking of designers like Olujimi King, Abba Folawiyo, Uduak Umondak, Kofi Ansah, Joyce Ababio, e.t.c.
These designers kickstarted the revolution of Ankara but it’s the newer designers that have been able to take the revolution to an enviable height. New designers like Lisa Folawiyo who has played a major role in reinventing Ankara; Ituen Basi who brought back the Iro and buba trend; Deola Sagoe; Christie Brown; Duro Olowu, whose impeccable design has been worn by the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
These designers have succeeded in making African prints a rave in the fashion industry, they’ve succeeded in making African prints become a global sensation.
Really, the destiny of my dear Ankara has changed. The revolution has paid off. African prints has become a glamorous wardrobe must-have. The African fashion has been refashioned!