The History and the Future of African Fashion

Tie and Dye African Print Clothing

The fashion of any country or state is very much linked to its culture. The same goes for African fashion. African fashion is intertwined with culture, and so many things in their fashion represent the culture.

People dress and style up to express themselves. Fashion is for everyone, and each person can style according to their liking. Fashion has changed a lot, and it is still changing. With new trends in motion and new styles, everything is altering.

Similarly, there have been a lot of changes in the African fashion industry as well. For decades the global fashion industry was known as the African fashion industry because of the popularity of African prints.

African Woman in Kente head wrap

Hence, in this article, we will talk about the past of African fashion, its evolution, and the future of the African industry. So, let's jump into the article and learn everything about the African fashion industry.

History of African Fashion:

For a long time, the African fashion industry was considered tribal and exotic. Not many knew about their fashion sense, and it was seen that people thought they misunderstood their tribal wear. However, Africa is extensive content, and there is a diversity in fashion. The concept of proper and stylish clothing that now exists was because of the influence of the various cultural backgrounds that makes the melting pot of Africa.

The first form of clothing in Africa was through the bark of trees, leaves, furs, skins, and hides. There are various cultures that incorporated this into their day to day wear.

African Couple in Traditional Hide clothing

Garments were made a communication status for the ritual and the tribes. In some tribes It was also seen that the women before marriage only wore skirts, and after they got married, they used to wear full body wraps. It varied from different tribes and Cultures.

The clothing evolved into hand sewn different pieces of bark cloth to make an excellent long cloth piece. They started making different accessories to accessorize and wear with the clothing. There started to be a  focus on creating intricate jewelry and headgear from various materials such as seashells, bones, eggshells, feathers, and many more.

3 African Friends in wearing African Beads

Next started the era where weaving and sewing cloth into different patterns and prints was popular. Also dying clothes to distinguish between different ethnic groups. Was common on some cultures The pride started taking pride in how they were handcrafting everything and were using different techniques to make the most beautiful clothes ever.

The Start of Trading:

During the 15th century, trading routes opened between Africa and Europe. New and different materials were dropped off, and this led to the development of the African fashion industry. This started the use of material to decorate local cloth and make them more stylish. Simple garments were turned into these embellished and stunning pieces of cloth.

Busy African Market

Because of the materials that were traded, the weaving techniques also got improved. Different type of cloth material was also used, such as cotton, silk, raffia, and other fibers. These weaving textiles became the reflection of the tribe's status and the socioeconomic status of the people in the tribe as well.

During this time, the wax print, one of the most famous African prints, was also created. Women began to experiment with different designs, and a few of them became essential patterns for the tribes and the African community, and now it is seen that these prints are famous all over the world.

Colonization and its Effect on the African Fashion:

When colonization was enforced, it was seen that there was a drastic change in the daily wear of the Africans. Traditional African wear was not encouraged anymore, and people stopped wearing them in the cities. However, the robes and other traditional clothes continued in the rural areas.

Western fashion started affecting African fashion. However, it was seen that there were a few trends that also became a part of western fashion, such as the kaftan and other dresses. The African prints also got very famous, and still, they are famous such as the Leso / Khanga pattern, Ankara pattern, and many others.

Khanga/ Leso Fabric

African Fashion at the Present:

It is seen that African fashion is trending again. The stunning headscarves, the beautiful colors, and the bold patterns are coming into fashion again. Many designers have included these African prints as a part of their new collections. Not only this, but the dress and the style of their clothes are also reintroduced.

Africans in general still wearing these stunning outfits with unique prints. The fashion is still there to identify the different tribes and the position of people in the tribes. Other than this, celebrities and singers are also wearing these stunning outfits on the red carpets, on their shows, and at other important events. Hence, African culture is becoming more and more popular every day.

The Future of African Fashion:

Now that there has already been a start in the reintroduction of African fashion, it is hoped that in no time, it will become one of the biggest fashion industries in the world. The are many young people who have started taking steps and started making brands through which they are promoting these African prints.

Other than this, social media plays an important part when it comes to the popularity of African fashion. Since there are a variety of styles and designs available in African dresses, it is seen that more people are connecting to African fashion, and they love the style and culture.

3 friends wearing Kente Traditional Clothing

It is seen the future of African fashion is bright, but it will still take a lot of hard work to promote the culture and fashion. In order to prevent any exploitation, it is essential that designers keep on introducing African prints in different ways so that they can stay in the industry. Consumers should also have knowledge about African fashion so that they can support this industry.

Furthermore, new shapes, designs, and prints should be made so that more people get attracted to them. This will have a long-lasting effect on the consumers, and people will not get bored with the same designs and prints again and again.

African woman fashion will surely take over the world because many women are telling the stories of their struggles. Hence, they are conveying the messages loudly. So, fashion is the language that African women use to convey their messages and show the roots of their fashion.


African fashion is very much in trend nowadays. The fashion designer is launching new designs and patterns inspired by African prints. However, this was only sometimes the case. There was a time when African fashion was at its lowest, and they had to go through a lot of struggles to reach the point they are right now. Hence, we hope through this article, you were able to understand the evolution of African fashion and all the struggles they faced at this point.