Africa’s Top Trends to Shop Now
From the runway to your closet, here are the top 5 trends making the rounds of Africa’s most celebrated fashion creatives…
As Spring/Summer 2023 inches closer on the African continent, we wrap up the hottest African trends as seen on some of the local fashion runways. From the sharpest of tailoring to the freshest of prints, Ananse is breaking down the season’s sartorial winners…
1. Function follows form - frills, cut outs and asymmetrical hems - expect the unexpected as designers explore the human form. From the layered cut outs at Black Coffee’s SA Fashion Week show to the gloriously excessive sleeve and hem details at The Bam Collective, there is a definite couturier’s sense of occasion. Traditional staples like kaftans and kimonos still carry a strong presence across both mens and womenswear, but there is a joyful ode to movement with dramatic fringing, oversized sleeves and cut away details. Even accessories are getting in on the action with dramatic pieces that go beyond the mere moniker of, ‘jewellery.’ Kenya’s Epica Jewellery crafts body wear that is both traditional and innovative in the way that it frames the human form. Peekaboo multi-strand adornment and hats show off the fact and body in interesting ways. This doesn’t however mean that silhouettes are not flattering. Modest and more traditional offerings carrying boubous for example are beautifully crafted to billow around the body in exquisite ways. Senegalese brand Marcella cuts draped dresses and boubous whose frills, dramatic sleeves and draping make a serious statement.
2. The Power Suit. In both mens and womenswear, Africa’s tailoring presence has grown from its unique hand crafted heritage to a modern tailoring selection that rivals that of its European and American counterparts. A stand out star in this space is Nigerian brand Atafo. Creative director Mai Atafo is a champion of the meticulously fitted silhouette, so he ensures that his brand’s offering is razor sharp and and appeals to a global consumer. Three piece suits, tuxedos and traditional wear are created with equal focus. The womenswear collection ranges from sculptural business looks to elegant evening outfits that showoff his luxury prowess. If you are looking for something a little bit more African inspired, but no less tailored then Ivorian Maison Reotra has your back. Their latest Collection Fotamana showcases exquisitely crafted jackets, bustier panelled tops and gillets designed in patchwork and woven fabrications that give a node to the brand’s Ivorian heritage but also tick the luxe box.
3. Invest in the Best. Speaking of luxury, the globally present quiet luxury trend has caught on throughout the continent. Fuelled by a focus on power dressing, but also reflecting a global reaction to the fast fashion crisis currently gripping the continent, ready-to-wear and accessory brands are meticulously sourcing the highest quality fabrics and materials available. The aim is to create elevated items that will wear seamlessly in future fashion seasons rather than importing ‘throw away’ fashion that clogs up rivers and landfills. Senegalese brand Paulelle’s handbag offering is a beautiful fusion of heritage handbag styling and fresh colour ways. From cross body bags to travel totes, each item is handcrafted by a team of Senegalese artisans in 100% leather. The result of all this hard work is a collection of effortless pieces that translate no matter the season.
4. Boys having fun. African men have never been afraid to wear colour and therefore designers have always been given free licence to design collections that sing with print and tone. However there is a push for even more interest in colour palettes, print and even textural elements like beading and fringing. Nigerian designer Ola Reay has crafted masculine pieces that come with added sparkle. Floral prints, beaded shirts and metallic printed leather are just some of the chosen elements that show off a more complex side to menswear that’s exciting customers the world over. Another Nigerian creative showcasing menswear innovation is OboyLagos. His longline Ijele velvet jacket features all over mixed fringe, which adds an almost tribally ceremonial quality to this modern fabrication.
5. The New Print - We cannot discuss Africa’s hottest trends without referencing one of the continent’s unique aesthetic signifiers - print. While traditional printing techniques like Batik and tie-dye are ever present in designers’ lexicons, fabric quality and garment styling have ramped up several notches. Abstract and geometric prints are all the rage, as is a fresh take on indigo and patchwork. Newbie on the block, Ivory Coast’s Djainin (Ivorian slang for ‘denim’) has exploded onto the fashion scene with exactly the youthful sensibility beloved by a GenZ clientele. Ironically his box fresh silhouettes are screen printed with a smiling portrait of the country’s first, first lady Marie-Thérèse Houphouët-Boigny. An unsung African style icon, the brand’s designer Jean-Yves Kouassi has found her an inspiring muse for his first collection. Another print enthusiast can be found in Nigeria’s Cute-Saint. The 2023 collection features an all-over, graffiti style Omo-Eko print. The prints feel fresher and more globally inspired with a hint of the traditional while others are remarkably modern as suiting or evening wear options.
Shop these and other African trends on one stylish shopping platform. Ananse is the continent’s first digital shopping space, curating the best designers, artisans and artists for a global fashion lover. For your fashion fix visit ananse.com.