Fashion Around Africa Series: Nigeria

Traditional Agbada Courtesy of Yorupedia.com

Traditional Agbada Courtesy of Yorupedia.com

The fashion industries in the United States and Europe are well-known by many but few know much about the booming fashion industry in Nigeria. Nigeria is a significant fashion spot in Africa, where many different fashion shows take place and is known for the different designs that are produced. Nigeria’s fashion has been the stepping stone and example for fashion industries in other countries and continues to boom today. They have designers that not only have businesses in Nigeria but also in Ghana and other countries. In order to fully understand the Nigerian fashion industry and their boom we must start from the bottom, the traditional aspects of things. From there you can see how their fashion industry began and became an example for many western and southern countries in Africa.

The traditional attire in Nigeria is made from different types of fabric called ankara, lace, adire and jacquard. These different cloths are used to make beautiful clothing for both men and women. The clothing can be made for an individual or also for a husband and wife so that they are matching, as well as their children. There is more variety in the women’s clothing than there is for men. Women wear buba, kaba, iro, gele and iborun or ipele which are different styles. Buba, pronounced boo-ba, is a loose top that goes on top of the iro which is a long cloth that one wraps around their waist and tuck in on the side. The buba and iro are made from the same material and are always worn together. Kaba is a one piece dress that is mainly made from the ankara material. Kaba can have many different styles to it which makes it the most developed of all the different styles. The gele, pronounced gay-lay, is a rectangular scarf, wrapped around the head that makes a bit of a crunching noise and is not as soft as the ankara material. The gele comes in many different colors and can be worn with the iro, buba and the kaba. Lastly is the iborun which is usually the remaining cloth from one’s material used to sew a design and is wrapped around the waist. It can also be wrapped around one’s shoulders if one gets cold. This is what the women in Nigeria wear. The men also wear buba but for the bottom part they wear sokoto, pronounced show-ko-toe. With the entire outfit of the buba and sokoto the men also wear a fila which is Yoruba for a hat. One other clothing attire men wear is called the agbada, pronounced ah-gba-da. The agbada is a big piece of fabric that has an embroidered design on the front around the neck and is worn like a shirt. It is a lot larger than the buba in size and heavier because it is mainly made from lace.

The traditional fashion of Nigeria is what has pushed the inspiration and boom of the Nigerian fashion industry. It is the use of ankara and the style of kaba that has transformed their fashion. Many of the different styles today originated from kaba meaning that they are also dress styles but the difference is the designs behind them. Kaba is a simple concept and Ankara is used for mostly all the clothing so Nigerians put a western style to the kaba with the use of Ankara. The discovery of this great use and new design has brought many new designs and designers in Nigeria, Africa and the West.

Courtesy of Asotodun

Courtesy of Asotodun

One of the businesses that specializes in making modern style clothing from Ankara in Nigeria is called Asotodun which means sweet clothing and is pronounced ah-sho-toe-dune. This business offers what is called measure to service, meaning they take your measurements and sew the style you want from a chosen fabric. In Nigeria and other African countries, traditional clothes cannot really be bought at a store with a standard size but instead is made to fit; therefore many people are measured in order for their clothes to be made. Another Nigerian business is AAMAA à la mode which was started by a designer named Toyosi Mobereola in 2009. The business is continuing to grow by making different designs and just like Asotodun they also make measure to wear clothing. The difference between the two businesses is AAMAA à la mode also makes a ready wear line which can be purchased on the spot. They provide high-end fashion and affordable ready to wear lines. It is from traditional clothing that many were inspired to create the fashions people wear today in Nigeria and contributes to the booming fashion industry.

Courtesy of Aamaa A La Mode

Courtesy of Aamaa A La Mode

Women are not the only ones who have clothing in the ever growing fashion industry even though it is mainly targeted towards them. Men also have clothing, although not as many options, but there are designers in Nigeria who make fashionable clothes specifically for men. One designer is Clement Mudiaga Enajemo who founded Mudi Africa. He has over 18 years of experience and began his business 15 years ago. Ever since he opened his business he travels to different parts of Nigeria and other parts of Africa such as Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal to market his business. In his designs he uses the ankara cloth to make embroidered and decorated shirts for men and creates matching pants. His designs are well known and are worn by several popular actors in Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry. Enajemo’s use of ankara for men’s clothing is one that is unique which explains the growth of his business. He has not only helped the growth of his business through his designs but also Nigeria’s fashion industry.

Courtesy of Mudionline.com

Courtesy of Mudionline.com


Sources:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/nigeria/culture/clothing.html
http://www.aamaacouture.co.uk/About-Us.html
http://www.asotodun.com
http://www.mudionline.com/index.php

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Fashion Around Africa Series: Algeria

Algerian traditional mens dress courtesy of thelovelyplanet.net

Algerian traditional mens dress courtesy of thelovelyplanet.net

The United States is known by the world for the many interesting facts about it. For example they are known for Disney World, Hollywood, Six Flags, their numerous historic sites and many more. Just like the United States, other countries have some pretty interesting facts. Algeria is one of the many African countries that has a wealth of beauty that many do not know. Algeria has the largest sand dunes that are found in the Sahara Desert. Algeria also has many beaches, beautifully green botanical gardens in its capital Algiers, and great architecture. This Northern African country may not be known for these many great things but one additional thing on the rise is their fashion industry. Despite being an Arab country they have a booming fashion industry which includes fashion designer Ferouz Allali.

The fashion in Algeria is not much different from other African countries but they have their own uniqueness. The traditional clothing in Algeria is very similar to the Arab traditional clothing since they are influenced by the Arab culture. The clothes worn by city dwellers is more modern than those who reside in the rural areas but despite that many of the people still wear their traditional clothing. A man’s traditional clothing consists of a cloak called a gandoura which can be worn on its own or over a shirt longer than the gandoura. The men also wear a sleeveless coat called burnous which is cool for the summer season but during the winter it is made out of wool to keep them warm. The women’s clothing can be simple but also extravagant depending on the occasion. Some women wear a dress called a haik which is a veil-like material that covers them completely. They also wear a traditional dress which incorporates a velvet jacket embroidered with gold and silver which is called kakakou. The kakakou can be worn on its own but can be worn over a pair of pants called the saroual, an Arab pant – which can often be seen today in modern Western fashion. Another piece of clothing that the women wear is the djeba fergani which is a dress made with velvet and also embroidered with silver and gold thread and can have lace sleeves. The clothing can also be made with cotton and worn with many different types of jewelry. Since the clothing is so extravagant, it is mainly worn at weddings or other special occasions.

Courtesy of Africouleur

Courtesy of Africouleur


While Algerian’s are continuing to keep with their traditional clothing there are some designers that are also innovating their clothes by adding modern styles. Many designers are beginning to modernize their clothing and one such person is Ferouz Allali.

Ferouz Allali is a designer that has a store located in France. She found her passion for designing in 1996 when she went to Togo for the first time. While there she was fascinated with the culture, so she decided to create a clothing line with accessories that incorporated the different West African designs and textures into her styles. Ever since then she has traveled to Togo 3 to 4 times a year in order to get new designs and textiles to create new fashions. Her store in Paris consists of clothes for different times of the year and even jewelry. She uses the different textile designs to make different shapes and animals for not only jewelry but also to add flare to her style. Besides designing clothes for different seasons she has also designed wedding gowns which are more complicated and intricate. Despite the difficulty she has made it possible and her company continues to grow. Check out Africouleur and the vibrant styles that are made using the cotton bazin typically worn in Sub-Saharan African countries like Mali, Senegal and Niger.

Courtesy of Africouleur

Courtesy of Africouleur

Sources:

http://africouleur.com/home.php
http://www.algerianembassy.org.my/fashion.htm
http://www.myweku.com/2010/02/ferouz-allali-african-fashion-stylist-and-africouleurs-founder/
http://www.african-elegance.com/2010/06/stylisme-ferouz-allali/
http://www.algeria.world-guides.com/algeria_attractions.html
http://www.thelovelyplanet.net/algerian-traditional-dress/

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Drinks & Styles Event

Drinks & Style

Drinks & Style

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Wafrique Product of The Month

Au Marche Tableau

Au Marche Tableau from Benin

Au Marche Tableau from Benin

A portrait of women selling wares at a market in Benin created by a young artist of Cotonou, Benin. This image is one that represents the typical markets of many cities and towns in Africa. The beautiful oil painting is done on recycled raffia sack, wedged neatly between two glass panes and shut snugly with wood and tightly wound cord. An accent piece that brightens any living area.

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Fashion Around Africa Series: Kenya

Photos of Sun n' Sand Beach, Kikambala
This photo of Sun n’ Sand Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Imagine lying on the beach and enjoying the warm sun that is beating down on you. The beach towel that you are lying on is nice and comfortable and you have just finished a busy week. All week you have been going to fashion shows to find new designs for your store but now you have a chance to relax. Breathe in the smell of the ocean air and feel the breeze on the nice, white and sandy beach. Now come back to reality. White beaches, comfortable beach towels and fashion shows are all part of Kenya that many may not know about. Kenya’s beaches are a main attraction and some of the beach towels there are made from a material called kikoy. Besides their beaches and material kikoy, Kenya also has an active fashion industry with designers starting to become known in Europe.

 

If you are looking for a nice place to vacation Kenya is an option because they have beautiful beaches. Some of the beaches located on the southern coast include Diani Beach, Tiwi Beach, Wasini Island and Kisie-Mpunguti Marine Reserve. These beaches are mainly known for snorkeling, scuba diving and the coral reef. They are also known for having white sand with the beauty of the blue ocean in sight. There are also many beaches located on the northern coast of Kenya and are found at Shanzu, Vipingo, Nyali, Mtwapa, Kikambala and Takaungu. The most well-known beach in the north is located in Mombasa which is the perfect atmosphere for young people. There are spas, market places to shop, historic ruins of the old town and a beautiful seaside view. Besides enjoying the beaches in Kenya, there are safaris where one can see wildlife first hand. Many of the safari destinations are a relatively short distance from where many of the beaches are located such as Amboseli, Tsavo and Shimab Hills. Kenya has many beautiful beaches, so next time you want to vacation somewhere nice consider Kenya.

Kikoys from Kenya

Kikoys from Kenya

While considering whether to vacation in Kenya you can also consider purchasing a beach towel made out of kikoy. Kikoy is a hand-woven garment that comes in many different colors and patterns. It is a very soft material that gets softer and stronger with every single wash which makes it the perfect material for a beach towel and many other things. The kikoy was traditionally a garment for men but has evolved into many valuable items that everyone can enjoy. Some of the things made out of kikoy besides beach towels are fleeces, shorts/pants, scarves, bags, baseball hats, paper beads and even bikini’s. Kikoy is not only used for making clothes and different accessories but can be used around the house as a placemat, napkin, tablecloths, cushion covers and also blankets. Kikoy is a material that can be used to make almost anything and comes in many different colors and designs. Kikoy is a big part of Kenya’s fashion and many women there weave kikoy and sell it in order to make a living for themselves and their family.

 

Kikoy is not the only fashion in Kenya even though it is the biggest known one. Just like other countries have their traditional clothing so does Kenya. In Kenya the people are split by the different tribes that they belong to but the most famous tribe is the Masai Maria. Masai traditional clothing consists of men wearing a red-checked shuka (Masai Blanket) and carrying a distinctive ball ended club. Women wear plate like bead necklaces and colorful wraps called kanga. In the Masai tribe the color red stands for power so many of their clothing is red and even when boy become men at 14, they dye their hair red.

 

Kooroo Design Image Courtesy of Ciaafrique.com

Kooroo Design Image Courtesy of Ciaafrique.com

Kooroo Design Image Courtesy of Kooroo

Kooroo Design Image Courtesy of Kooroo

Traditional clothing is not the only type of fashion that takes place in Kenya. There are many up and coming designers that have begun their own businesses and are making names for themselves. Some of these businesses are Kooroo Designs and Kiko Romeo which have shown off their designs at fashion shows around the world. Kooroo Designs is a designer women’s label that was established in 2006 in Kenya by Herbert Lakew and Enid Lanez. The main purpose of their line is to make ready to wear clothing for women that blend sophisticated clothing with African influences. Their designs are meant to embody a combination of traditional heritage and global appeal. Kooroo integrates the use of African prints in a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors with silks, jersey, cotton and linens in solid colors and prints to create collections that have exceptional appeal to a global audience. These designs have been seen at different fashion shows such as Festival of African Fashion and Art, Swahili Fashion Week and Edinburgh Mela Festival in Scotland.

Just like Kooroo Design, Kiko Romeo is an up and coming fashion business that is located in Kenya. Kiko Romeo is run by Ann McCreath and Norbert Ochieng. Ann McCreath studied in Rome and came to Kenya to do some aid work for 3 months but decided to stay for 3 years because she had fallen in love with the country. Along with her love for the country was her concern for the people. She wanted to create jobs in rural areas and make unique, high quality products for retail which is how she established Kiko Romeo, which actually means “Adam’s apple” in Kiswahili. Her partner Norbert Ochieng is a Kenyan native who wanted to become a mathematician but instead went into fashion. He graduated with high honors and now his goal is to become the best tailor in Kenya. The designs of Kiko Romeo consist of clothing for not only women but also for men. They even have a collection called “Kenya Rugby Team.” Besides having integrated modern styles with African clothing and creating collections for not only women but for men, they also founded the Festival of African Fashion and Arts in 2008 as a way for designers to showcase their designs and it has now become an annual event. Fashion continues to grown in Kenya and also throughout African with the establishment of many new designers.

KikoRomeo Courtesy of Ciaafrique.com

KikoRomeo Courtesy of Ciaafrique.com

KikoRomeo Courtesy of 1smartfasean.wordpress.com

KikoRomeo Courtesy of 1smartfasean.wordpress.com

Sources:

http://www.mombasadrive.com/History_of_the_Kikoy.html
http://kikoykiosk.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=2
http://www.safari.go2africa.com/kenya/kenya-beaches.asp
http://www.kenyatourguide.com/kenya-adventure-safari-tours/kenya-beach-safari-tours.html
http://www.naturaltoursandsafaris.com/wasini_day_tours.php
http://www.mydestination.com/kenya/regionalinfo/6174724/top-ten-beaches
http://www.kenya-advisor.com/kenya-clothing.html
http://www.savannah-chic.com/de_r/sale.html/
http://www.kooroodesigns.com/?page_id=7
http://kikoromeo.com/

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Malawi Fashion

You never know where the next design will come from but when it comes it is always something phenomenal. New designers come from different parts of the world adding their ideas to already known designs, in order to bring patterns people will fall in love with. Up and coming designers in Malawi are doing just that by bringing new fashions that incorporate modern and western designs with the Malawian traditional material, chitenge. Cathy Kamthunzi and Mia Nisbet are two designers that are climbing the fashion ladder quickly and making a name for themselves in Malawi, Europe and Africa as a whole.

Malawi (Photo Credit: aardvarksafaris.com)

Malawi (Photo Credit: aardvarksafaris.com)

Malawi Map (Photo Credit: pbs.org)

Malawi Map (Photo Credit: pbs.org)

Every culture has their traditional clothing styles just as Indian’s have their saris, Malawians have something called “chitenge”. It is like the traditional clothing of Nigeria and Ghana but has a different name. The chitenge is used in different forms such as being wrapped around the waist like a sarong, around the head as a scarf and even used as a sling to hold babies. Chitenge is used for many things, but today is being incorporated into new designs by fashion designers into something more modern. Now modern dresses and pants are made from the material, while the traditional uses and designs of the material are still intact.

Cathy Kamthunzi is described as energetic and passionate about fashion. She exemplifies her passion for fashion through her different designs, some which will be shown at the Swahili Fashion Week (November 8-12, 2012). Kamthunzi’s passion for fashion began while she was young when she used to knit various things and wanted to become an entrepreneur. Kamthunzi’s dream has come true by now owning her own business called Spectacular Fashions. Many of the designs Kamthunzi produces have a modern and Western style to them. She takes the chitenge cloth and makes them into different modern designs that many people wear in the West. She has put a different twist by using the chitenge cloth to make the modern and Western styles instead of combining it. Kamthunzi has been very successful in her business and her designs are becoming popular around the world. She designed clothes for a contestant of the Miss Malawi competition and a well-known Malawian gospel artist named Ethel Kamwendo Banda. Despite her growth in her business and passion the one thing Kamthunzi wants to be is a role model to young girls, letting them know that they can achieve anything in life if they put their mind to it.

Photo Credit: Cathy Kay Fashions

Photo Credit: Cathy Kay Fashions

Photo Credit: Cathy Kay Fashions

Mia Nisbet is not a Malawi born native but has made Malawi her home. Nisbet graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2003 and after graduating she went to work for Michiko Koshino as an in-house designer. It was not until 2008 that she began her own fashion company named MIA, named after her. She received the inspiration for her designs from the street markets in Malawi. In Malawi, the street markets sell second hand clothes from Western countries because many people want clothes from the U.S. and Europe. Since some Malawians like the modern western clothing, Nisbet thought they might like it better if it was fused with their traditional cloth, chitenge. She decided to take some of the modern western clothes and add the traditional chitenge cloth in order to produce a collection that combines the richness of African textiles with Western styling. Besides fusing African textiles and Western styling, Nisbet also uses the African textiles on shoes to give them a new look. Nisbet’s creativity and fusion of two different cultures has made her designs amazing and made her a sensation.

Photo Credit: fashionbymia.com

Photo Credit: fashionbymia.com

Photo Credit: fashionbymia.com

Photo Credit: fashionbymia.com

Sources:

http://www.fashionbymia.com
http://www.mywage.com/main/women-and-work/climbing-the-fashion-ladder
• http://www.facebook.com/Cathykayfashions
• http://www.experiencemalawi.com/malawi_focus/20092711-what-women-wear-in-malawi.html
• http://swahilifashionweek.com/cathy-kamthunzi

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MAWA Healthy Family Picnic

MAWA Healthy Family Picnic

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Fashion Around Africa Series: Ivory Coast

When it comes to fashion everything depends on the style, the way you wear it and how you show it off. Many people show off their clothes by strutting down the street with their heads up high, but in Ivory Coast fashion shows are where you have the opportunity to show the world your designs. Events like the different fashion shows and the start of fashion week in Ivory Coast is where life is brought into many of the designers clothing. The fashion show in Ivory Coast is not the only place where fashion can be displayed but also at the Ivory Coast fashion week which took place this year from August 1st – 5th. Many different people bring life to Ivory Coast fashion show and fashion week and put a twist on their different styles.
Cote d'Ivoire Fashion Week 2012
Ivory Coast’s fashion shows are known to take place in the former capital, Abidjan, where many of the fashion designers are located. The last fashion show took place in October 2011 and some of the designers that were present at the show were Pathe’O, Gilles Toure, Angy Bell and Michele Yakice. Gilles Toure is one of the top designers in Ivory Coast and his clothes mainly use the material and patterns of Ivory Coast’s clothing. He uses the different patterns and modernizes them to fit what many people will want to wear. Below is an example of what his clothes looks like.

Gilles Toure et Uniwax

Photo Credit: Abidjan.net

Gilles Toure et Uniwax

Photo Credit: Abidjan.net


Pathe’O is also a well-known designer and even designed clothes for Nelson Mandela. Just like Gilles he also uses the material and patterns of Ivory Coast clothing to make his clothing but he adds his own taste and twist to it. Below is a picture of one of his designs. Fashion shows are a big event in Ivory Coast and have been for the last six years and will continue on to their 7th year during 2012.

Pathé'O

Photo Credit: Patheo.fr

The traditional fashion shows are not the only form of fashion in Ivory Coast but they now have the addition of fashion week just like the United States and Europe. The World Fashion Organization (WFO) is in charge of all the biggest fashion shows in the world but their biggest shows are the fashion weeks that take place in the US and Europe. In March 2010, the WFO established an Ivory Coast National Chapter.

The main objectives of the WFO in Ivory Coast and all the countries as a whole are to encourage the expansion of World Fashion in the fields of goods, services, capital and technology, promote international business relationships and understanding on the principle of World Fashion among business enterprises and nations; foster the increased participation in the World Fashion Forum by developed and developing countries alike, particularly with a view to better integrate all countries into the World Fashion; provide complete and reliable services for import and export with global coverage utilizing its portfolio of international Fashion and, abide the Constitution of World Fashion Organization. These are the different objectives every fashion week country must abide by.

Pathé'O

Photo Credit: Patheo.fr

Ivory Coast held a fashion week last year and some of the designers that presented their clothes were Pathe’O, Rachel Yahiri, Michele Yakice and Ousmane Doumbia. The theme for this year’s Fashion Industry “in order to show at first the weight of this business sector in terms of job creation but also and especially organize reflection with Government, World Fashion industry leaders, partner in development and the financial institutions for a better organization of this industry.” Ivory Coast Fashion Week is also the platform for the selection of Ivorian fashion industry personalities who will represent the country at the World Fashion Week and World Fashion Awards planned in United States of America in 2012. The aim of Ivory Coast Fashion Week is to promote, cooperate, finance, educate and protect African fashion which is the heart of their strategy to make it a great week.

Sources:

o http://www.europaregina.eu/fashion_weeks/ivory-coast-fashion-week-03052012.htm
o http://www.africafashionguide.com/2012/05/ivory-coast-fashion-week-2012-event/
o http://www.modernghana.com/lifestyle/2656/16/the-return-of-fashion-to-ivory-coast.html
o http://africanlegends.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/a-renowned-african-stylist-patheo/

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Why We Do What We do

Tie Dye Cotton Tablecloth From Ghana

Tie Dye Cotton Tablecloth From Ghana

With our spending habits these days we don’t always stop to think about where we spend our money and what effects it can create in the global economy. It just takes a simple purchase from everyone to cause a ripple effect that can create an impact in the global economy. Let’s say, for example, that you need to upgrade your dining table linen. Rather than purchasing a basic solid colored table from your regular department store (which would have likely come from China), you purchase a unique hand crafted long-lasting tie dye or print table-cloth made by Global Mamas from Wafrique. Your purchase will have several overriding effects.

Firstly, your purchase from Wafrique will have provided income to the individual(s) who sewed and created the Global Mamas tablecloth in Ghana.

Secondly, this purchase would encourage these individuals to reproduce more similar tablecloths and encourage them to utilize the textile produced by the cotton textile industry in Ghana. So there you have provided a demand for the cotton textile and as such have provided a need for skilled laborers to produce this cotton fabric.

Thirdly, the purchase of the cotton textile by Global Mamas would increase the demand for more cotton picking from the cotton farmers.

Tie Dye Cotton Tablecloth From Ghana

Tie Dye Cotton Tablecloth From Ghana

Simply put, your purchase, along with other purchases from Wafrique and other fair trade and handcrafted African shops will have the effect of creating and supporting several employment opportunities in Africa.

This is how Wafrique hopes to participate in African development; be a part of change in Africa; be a part of improving the livelihood of the people. Often one thinks that all that can be done to help a people improve their economic situation, when you live abroad, is by making donations and sending money. At times this is necessary, but this can lead to a lazy mentality where people expect only to receive money to survive.

We encourage you to think about your spending habits and support us in economic development. Your purchase makes a significant difference in Africa.

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Fair Trade & Mother’s Day Event


RSVP and save a space to this event by emailing info@wafriquecrafts.com.

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