Africa’s Fashion Influence and Urban Trends


Chanel Iman walks the runway during Africa Fashion Week Show

To travel to Africa for authentic “mother land looks” is a luxury many of us can’t afford.

Luckily African influenced fashion has found a permanent home in our lifestyles not just in the U.S. market but globally, especially in the apparel market.  Although the tough economy is affecting the fashion industry in all countries including Africa, the push for recognition as a fashion leader is still going strong, culminating in the first African Fashion Week.

The Sanlana Africa Fashion Week was a success with many celebrities attending, back stage interviews galore, non-stop press, Fashion TV recording…..sound familiar? This fuels the fire for more African fashions to hit the urban cities and inspire urban looks now and onward.


African inspired ensemble in blk and wht-print

Urban trends are unique but we can always see a nod to African looks which complements both African and city urban cultures. The Urban community has always embraced African trends, this remains true today. Multi gold bangles, intricately carved wooden bracelets, multi-chain necklaces, oversized hoop earrings, exotic hair braiding, urban beauty salons, graphic T-shirts that represent the culture and more.

Influence is also seen in the beautiful fabric prints in rich colors and tones associated with Africa such as the famous “dashiki” with it’s elaborate embroidery and extraordinary colors which was popular in the 60’s and remains still today. Turbans of all sizes, prints and shapes exist and many hats are fashioned after this look. The richly patterned kente cloth which dates back to the 12th century can be seen at today’s weddings, in mens accessories, scarves, ties and more. The mudd cloth and batik prints continue to be part of some of the worlds most famous silk, linen and cotton textile mills.


giraffe print Roberto Cavalli dress

Fashion influence has been a two-way street. While we can find evidence of African inspired fashion in the U.S., it appears Africa takes cues from the runway shows held in U.S., Italy, Paris, Germany etc..  African influenced patterns sell at high ticket prices in designer boutiques and major department stores around the world. We all know how popular the giraffe print handbags were from Dooney & Bourke 1 1/2 years ago- I have one!!! So popular was this print it carried over into the next season, used by designer for dresses, sweater sets, funky trench coats, boots and hats. Same holds true for the zebra print that was seen everywhere.

Urban and African influence doesn’t end with fashion. Take a look at what interior designers are offering for the home. African inspired decor is offered in the urban community and globally from Macys, Bloomingdales, Horchow, Crate & Barrel.


Colorful and stunning African styles during Africa Fashion Week

Lets not forget the beautiful African Models such as Iman and Alek who found fame in the U.S., graced magazine covers, and have become icons with their own clothing, cosmetics and accsseory lines in the fashion industry.

Lastly African-owned fashion boutiques as well as beauty salons operating in urban communities and the internet allow consumers to have daily close connection with the “mother land” inspiration and current trends. Merchants who have brick-and-mortar as well as e-commerce businesses anchored in local communities enhance the connection between the city consumer and African Fashion Trends. This connection enables the African fashion influence to expand and thrive in our communities and internet, while enriching the apparel industry both in the U.S. and globally.


The Dashiki

We’re all connected to fashion. We all influence each other and drive trends to new directions. We share in the fight for market share, brand recognition, retail success, consumer loyalty and consistent growth.

Face it, the world is one big extended family related to fashion and each one is trying to be the favorite cousin!!!  We’re so spoiled!!!!  But talented too!!!

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Angela L. Serrette

Angela L. Serrette

Angela L. Serrette

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