• Thato Mathebula


And within her roots she found her power

Whether it is Fugu from northern Ghana, Bogolan of the Bambara or Kente of the Ashanti and Ewe, Africa is rich in versatile and traditional textiles. There is a huge international misconception that African traditional clothing can be defined as a collective.

This is one of the worst assumptions one could possibly make whether it is due to lack of education or blatant ignorance. Africa has multiple culture’s and subculture’s and traditional clothing often has various meanings among different countries, culture’s and tribes. Most Africans have been accustomed to wearing traditional clothing to embody their heritage or allegiance to their tribe, to celebrate traditional occasions or even mourn.

The opportunity to purchase African pieces that are ready to be worn was very scarce and often a seamstress would be required to personally create these traditional pieces so that they can be personally worn.

This is changing rapidly as multiple young designers across Africa are beginning to develop e commerce platforms and opening boutiques to sell African wear, there are also multiple fashion shows inspired by those abroad displaying multiple new trends and designs within African fashion.

One issue remains, the growth of fashion in Africa is hampered by poor infrastructure and lack of internal support and protection for young African designers. The Pan African Fashion Initiative was launched in 2019 for African leaders to come together to find ways to improve infrastructure, provide training and protect traditional knowledge that has been exploited and appropriated by the worlds biggest international fashion houses.

A brand that is a shining light and an example of why the local fashion industry needs to grow and be respected among global competition is Lucia Artur Roso an African luxury clothing brand.

Founded by Suneila Dos Santos who is a young woman passionate about women empowerment and giving back to society at large. The brand seeks to normalize a culture of ready to wear African clothing. It seeks to inspire people to wear the colors and designs of our continental heritage , not only when we celebrate , mourn or want our tribal allegiances to be identified, but in day to day life , at work , to dinner or a night out with our friends.

Every season released by this brand highlights backgrounds of various African cultures based on geography, language and other cultural components.

Educating non – Africans about African heritage is something that forms part of the brands principles. The African fashion industry is not yet where it needs to be in order to compete at its full potential however brands like this provide hope and are a reminder to African leaders that much can be accomplished with improved infrastructure and support of young designers and participants in the African fashion industry.

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