Why the term ‘African fashion’ is reductive
Whether in London or Lagos, Nairobi or New York, fashion is a pillar of identity: it’s a way to take risks and contextualise a sense of self and place. So why, then, does the mainstream fashion industry – be it the media, designers or international fashion houses – still reduce “African fashion” to a single, monolithic entity?
This season, it’s the likes of Valentino reaching for the “tribal” clichés (featuring mostly white models with the obligatory cornrows); Junya Watanabe’s bizarre attempt at Afrofuturism without any black models, and Isabel Marant and Alberta Ferretti’s Afro-boho collections. Others referencing Africa on the catwalk include Chloe, Louis Vuitton, Missoni and Issey Miyake.