New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013 season kicked off on 6th September 2012 and African designers certainly represented! I was reminded of the Africa Utopia Festival at London’s Southbank Centre, I attended in July. ‘More than zebra print: African Fashion Panel’ discussed various issues surrounding the rise and representation of African fashion locally and mainstream. One of the most poignant questions from the audience to the panel asked if the mainstream European dominated fashion industry is using African-inspired fashion, re-packaging it and selling it back to people of the African Diaspora? There is definitely an upsurge in those wearing African-inspired prints as it now seems to be cool or acceptable.
When I saw pictures from NY fashion week a smile instantly fell upon my face as I was glad to see African designers showcasing African-inspired fabrics and in essence telling their own stories, especially after the Burberry controversy earlier this year. I stumbled across an interesting presentation from Johanna Blakley on copyright issues in the fashion industry, which did put things into perspective a bit. Designers copy from each other; I also agree that they should be able to use fabrics from any part of the word to display their creativity; but just as when you write an essay and cite your sources/inspirations, the same should be common place in fashion, especially if the inspiration hasn’t really featured previously in earlier designs. While the argument may stand that some ‘tribal prints’ were not initially made by Africans (click on the Burberry link above), the continent is the primary ambassador for these prints and let us not forget that there are many other designs/prints that were made by Africans, such as the Ghanaian Kente cloth.
The first black designer, Ghanaian Ozwald Boateng, to have his own store on the exclusive Savile Row in London led the way at NY Fashion Week as you can see in his collection, but he was joined by other talented African designers. It’s important to support these designers, those who are up and coming and local talent, to ensure African-inspired fashion does not go out of fashion; it adds vibrancy and diversity that is much need in today’s world of fashion.
doubleaad : AdelinA