a love letter to african fashion.

My post on African fashion has been sitting patiently, just waiting for a new burst of inspiration, ever since I arrived home from Tanzania. It seems so long ago now ( isn’t it depressing when such a perfect time of life all of a sudden blurs? ). Amongst many other things over there, the people and the fashion did really stand out to me.

The most significant fashion lessons being:

#1 – They have the most realistic, body-positive hangers I have ever seen. Coat-hangers that are literally shaped like a woman’s body, with accentuated hip and boob areas, giving the most real image of the item you could imagine before it even slips onto your body. You know how that dress will fit instantly ( and I felt very at home with some booty appreciation ).

#2 – They are a whole lot smarter in their dress choices than most Westerners. While we gleefully walk about in denim shorts and un-sleeved tops, just asking for the spread of melanomas, they are covered ( and I should also point, they aren’t even the ones who NEED to wear sunscreen ). Jumpers and beanies even, while we sweat it out. But as I discovered on safari, sometimes a bit of a sleeve does help, at least in the mind, to keep you a tad cooler, and anything counts when it’s sweltering.

#3 – They love COLOUR and PATTERN. While I am on a journey of discovering just how monochrome my everyday wardrobe is ( depressingly so ), I reflect back on the most vibrant, patterned pairings. All along the streets of Tanzania were signs of life in all colours of the rainbow. Does this have something to do with how happy they are? A constant giggle and dance in their step, all because they embrace the lively side of life?

Which brings me on to Yevu, a fashionable social enterprise forging a relationship between Australia and Ghana, where prints are as wild and beautiful as their natural landscape. A hot pink background dotted with prawns is my personal favourite, spotted on every item you could ever want, from mini skirts to boxy shirts. The name of the game is supporting the textile industry in Ghana and creating steady, fair employment. Talented seamstresses and tailors work on the collections, crafting a practical and comfortable assortment of clothes.

Last Thursday I ventured to the pop-shop in Paddington, already expecting to love everything, as I tend to do. Often I arrive, though, and am sorely disappointed with a lack of sizing, the harsh reality of cost or how it actually looks on in real life. Two words, no disappointment. Only a wish that I could have bought one of everything.Β Mixing and matching those prints and styles is a dream come true, but I left with a perfectly adaptable mini skirt. Tragically I somehow ended up with the most monochromatic print of them all – at least I know it will be worn for years to come.

Let’s hope we see more partnerships like this sprouting in Australia, tying across the world, over the coming years. We need their talent and their individual design ( as we are all so stuck in that ‘basic’ way of dressing ). We need more burgeoning labels fighting for worker’s rights, empowering women and providing employment where it is most needed. And I need some more constant reminders of Africa, and it’s peoples’ infectious joy, Β in my life.

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(Images from here)

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