In the last decade, a new generation of designers in Africa and the wider diaspora has started to rise through the fashion industry’s ranks. These talents are riding the wider wave of global interest in Africa’s cultural, economic, and technological ascension and are also taking advantage of improved infrastructure, education, and governance. According to the World Bank, Africa now boasts seven of the ten fastest growing economies. In addition, over 300 million Africans can currently be considered as middle class, while the number of high-net-worth individuals continues to grow. International investment is flooding into the continent, and the manufacturing, financial, corporate, technology, and telecommunications sectors are booming. This has a trickle-down effect not just upon fashion but all of the creative industries. Music, literature, film, and art are all gaining traction. Added to this is the fact that an estimated seventy percent of Africa’s population is under the age of thirty. It is this new generation of upwardly mobile designers who, possessed with a global vision, are beginning to shine so brightly. Whereas fashion was not traditionally seen as a viable occupation within Africa, today’s designers are making desirable, well-made, well-marketed collections that hang from rails all over the world.
Research Article|November 01 2015
A Brief History of African Fashion
Helen Jennings is a London-based journalist, consultant, author, and editorial director of the new-media platform Nataal. She is also author of New African Fashion (Prestel, 2011), a book about contemporary African style, beauty, and photography.
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Nka (2015) 2015 (37): 44-53.
Helen Jennings; A Brief History of African Fashion. Nka 1 November 2015; 2015 (37): 44–53. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-3339860
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