Books You Should Read on African Fashion

Books You Should Read on African Fashion

In the last two decades, the world has paid increasing attention to African fashion. Even more so with the rise of prolific African designers like Duro Olowu, Ade Bakare and Lisa Folawiyo, Millecollines, Taibo Bacar, Mimi Plange and Sindoso Khumalo. To document this growth, there have also been many exquisitely produced books with lavish photography and insightful texts to inform fashion lovers all over the world. Our selection of a few of the many great ones has proven a difficult but most exciting task. We present to you in no particular order, a list of some of the most compelling titles on contemporary fashion from Africa.

Image credit: www.britishmuseumshop.com

Africa Textiles Today
by Chris Spring
Published by British Museum Press (2012)
ISBN: ISBN 9780714115597

This beautifully illustrated book, gives fascinating insight into the living history of African patterned textiles with stories that range far beyond the time of creation or the lifetime of their creator. In Africa, cloth is used to commemorate important events, people or political struggles that in other parts of the world might be recorded in writing, or marked by a plaque or monument. This book deciphers these hidden stories, whilst also revealing the relevance of African textiles today. It also explores how the dynamic traditions in African cloth-making have provided inspiration for the continent’s foremost contemporary artists and photographers. Africa’s long engagement with the peoples of the Mediterranean and the islands of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans provides a story of change and continuity, showing how ideas, techniques, materials and markets have adapted and flourished. Accompanied by 200 stunning illustrations revealing the rich variety of textile traditions throughout Africa, this work showcases some of the world’s finest examples of textile arts.

 

 

Image credit: www.swellvintage.com

New Africa Fashion
by Helen Jennings
Published by Prestel (2011)
ISBN: 9783791346960

New Africa Fashion celebrates a new wave of fashion designers who are emerging on the global stage. Ever since the late 1960s when Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne presented African-inspired collections, the textiles, details, and colours of Africa have moved into the realm of high fashion. In the last few years, young designers from the continent itself have emerged as people to watch in the fashion world. Helen Jennings offers a brief history of African fashion, beauty and style’s influence on modern designers, while spotlighting the best designers, photographers, and models from across the continent and in the African diaspora. Profiling popular lines such as Duro Olowu, Jewel by Lisa, Black Coffee and Eric Raisina, Jennings explores the myriad reasons why African fashion is having its moment in the sun. She also shows how designers are looking beyond clichés of the African aesthetic by embracing both traditional and contemporary fabrics and garments, and how the passion for ethically and environmentally conscious clothing is fueling this trend. As colourful and exciting as the fashions it features, this volume will appeal to anyone interested in following the world’s most exciting new fashion development.

Image credit: www.amazon.co.uk

Contemporary African Fashion (African Expressive Cultures)
by Kristyne Loghran
Published by Indiana University Press (2010)
ISBN: 978-02-5322-256-5

Contemporary African Fashion puts Africa at the intersection of world cultures and globalised identities, displaying the powerful creative force and impact of newly emerging styles. Richly illustrated with colour photographs, this book showcases haute couture for the African continent. The visual impact of fashion created and worn today in Africa comes to life here, beautifully and brilliantly.

 

 

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African Textiles: Colour and Creativity Across a Continent
by John Gillow
Published by Thames and Hudson (2003)
ISBN: 9780500288009

This book serves as a guide to the rich art of African textiles, as well as collections open to the public. It also includes a glossary and suggestions for further reading. The creativity of Africa is well represented in this book, exemplified by the; gorgeous strip weaves of the Ashanti and the Ewe; the lace weaves of the Yoruba, the bogolanfini mud cloths from Mali and West Africa; the Berber weaves from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia in North Africa; the unique, crocheted, embroidered, and feathered hats from Cameroon; the ancient weaving tradition of Ethiopia; the beadwork of the Zulu, Xhosa, and Ndebele peoples of Southern Africa; and the Asian-derived tradition of weaving silk and raphia in Madagascar.

 

Image credit: www.gestalen.com

Africa Rising: Fashion, Design and Lifestyle from Africa
by Robert Klanten and Clara Le Fort
Published by Die Gestalten Verlag (2016)
ISBN: 978-38-9955-641-4

Africa’s young, self-confident creative scene is attracting worldwide attention and showing the continent in new light. Africa’s dynamic design and fashion, as well as the products of her other creative industries, constantly surprise with their unique combination of innovation and tradition. African design, like that of other regions, often reflects or acts as a catalyst for social and economic developments. Africa Rising calls stereotypes and archaic clichés into question. A comprehensive portrait of Africa manifests from marrying Peter Mabeo’s furniture made from indigenous wood or Nobukho Nqaba’s body of photographic work that handles the themes of migration and foreignness through the clever use of every day objects or the publicly-minded architecture of David Adjaye, with the up-and-coming threads of Selly Raby Kane’s energetic fashion line or the soundscapes of Spoek Mathambo’s Fantasma that fix Bantu lyrics to computerised beats.

 

Image credit: www.africafashionguide.com

Fashion Africa
by Jacqueline Shaw
Published by Jacaranda Books (2014)
ISBN: 978-19-0976-200-8

Fashion Africa showcases over 45 of Africa’s well known fashion designers and companies such as Jewel by Lisa, Chichia London and Tiffany Amber, through to workshops like Kenya’s SOKO, which produces the ASOS Africa range and Mantisworld. With a sub focus on ethical and environmentally friendly fashion design and manufacture, this book takes a contemporary look at this growing market and highlights the importance of fashion in Africa to the global textile industry.

 

 

 

Image credit: www.amazon.co.uk

African Lace: A History of Trade, Creativity and Fashion in Nigeria (African Expressive Cultures)
Edited by Barbara Plankensteiner and Nath Mayo Adediran
Published by Snoeck Publishers (2010)
ISBN: 978-94-6161-000-3

African Lace reconstructs the production and trade history of the industrial embroideries and explores their cultural and social significance in Nigeria. The catalogue also gives an overview of the development of clothing traditions in southwest Nigeria, a style chronology of the Nigerian lace fashion since the seventies and offers insight into the lively society life and vibrant fashion scene in Lagos. Plankensteiner and Adeniran delve into socio-political issues related to the postcolonial history of Nigeria, while presenting a fascinating chapter in African fashion history and enhancing a contemporary aspect of culture that extends beyond the borders of a single nation, interconnecting people, ideas, and creativity through trade.

 

Image credit: www.amazon.co.uk

African Fashion, Global Style: Histories, Innovations, and Ideas You Can Wear
by Victoria L. Rovine
Published by Indiana University Press
ISBN: 978-02-5301-409-2

African Fashion, Global Style provides a lively look at fashion, international networks of style, material culture, and the world of African aesthetic expression. Victoria L. Rovine introduces fashion designers whose work reflects African histories and cultures both conceptually and stylistically, and demonstrates that dress styles associated with indigenous cultures may have all the hallmarks of high fashion. Taking readers into the complexities of influence and inspiration manifested through fashion, this book highlights the visually appealing, widely accessible, and highly adaptable styles of African dress that flourish on the global fashion market.


Oyindamola Olaniyan is the Digital Communications Officer at Revilo Publishing. She holds a B.sc in Botany from Lagos State University. Broadly experienced in this area, her core expertise includes social media management, content development and brand identity.

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