African Voices on African Fashion and Style
Fatima Sesay, 24, producer and social media manager
From Sierra Leone, based in New York City, U.S.
African fashion has the ability to explore different shapes, patterns and colors to create a unique look without any boundaries; it is a freedom of expression in which one transcends routine fashion trends.
Though the African fashion industry exists, there is a sense of exposure that designers are not getting; especially those back home in the continent who lack the fabrics and funds to be able to showcase their designs. In terms of those abroad, mainstream media is starting to recognize then, like Ghanaian designer Christie Brown who created the outfits worn by Beyoncé‘s dancers for “The Mrs. Carter Show” World Tour.
I am inspired by Farai Simoyi, Azy Banks, Dramatik Fanatik, 54 Kingdoms, and now Christie Brown. I’m wearing a red button up shirt and imitation leather pants from H&M, with a pair of red Converse’s. I prefer American brands with an African twists to it. I like to think of myself as a fashion-forward individual depending on my mood. In fact, I aspire to be a future designer, so I take into account details that the ‘normal eye’ would not notice; sometimes even unintentionally.
Carolyn Seaman, 32, fashion enthusiast
Based in Abuja, Nigeria
Fashion is very important to me because it is the reflection of my style, my behaviour and my way of life. Every aspect of my clothing style; my outfit, my hair and make-up all combine to represent my personality – the way I think, my goals and my capacity to also express my creativity in various styles and designs.
My outfits are predominantly classy, stylish African prints and feminine ready-to-wear dresses with a rich variety of colours like lots of purple which I particularly love.
I am inspired by South Africa’s high end fashion designer, Abigail Keats and Nigeria’s haute couture fashion designer, Deola Sagoe. I am also inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s creative redesigning of clothes considered to be masculine into beautiful feminine wardrobe for women, and by Dior’s dramatic couture ball gowns, chic prêt-a-porter and luxurious accessories.
Freeda Mulenga, 28, co-founder of Kuwala fashion brand
From Malawi, based in Calgary, Canada
I am a complete classic. I live by the idea that less is more and gravitate toward form fitting basics like neutral button-down shirts, jeans, and the perfect black dress. I add splashes of color with accessories.
Veronica Nnensa, 25, co-founder of Kuwala fashion brand
From Malawi, based in Toronto, Canada
I like mixing and matching different pieces. I usually have one accent piece, which could be a colorful head-wrap or unique jewelry. I like having one piece that gets people’s attention and asking where I got it from.
Freeda & Veronica: Fashion is a way to express your individual style. It can say a lot about who you are, where you’re from and what you’re aspiring to. We live in a connected world and can’t help but influence one another. This is proven by the trend of everyday African fashion which fuses African fabrics with Western styles. We are both drawn to designers who are creative, pay attention to detail and understand fit. We are especially proud of Africa’s design.