Here are some of the must-read books documenting the story of fashion in Africa.

The Four Must-Read Books About Fashion In Africa

Love African Fashion? Then read these books

Here are some of the must-read books documenting the story of fashion in Africa.

By Buhle Mbonambi

Diversity, they say, is the spice of life, and nowhere is this more evident than on the African continent. With over 50 countries and a plethora of cultures, there is no shortage of style inspiration to be found.  

Which is why so many designers have produced collections inspired by Africa and have loosely borrowed elements, aesthetics and styles found in the continent.  

From Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya to South Africa and everywhere in between, Africa is home to some of the most fashionable people on the planet.  

Africa has a rich culture and history that is reflected in our fashion. Africans have a strong sense of identity and pride in our appearance. Few would argue that we have a unique style that is unlike any other in the world. 

Which is partly why it’s important for Africans to read extensively about fashion produced in the African continent. Not only to improve their knowledge on what is happening in the continent, but to get context on the fashion industry.  

Here are some of the must-read books documenting the story of fashion in Africa.  

Africa In Fashion by Ken Kweku Nimo 

Africa in Fashion: Luxury, Craft and Textile Heritage, explores the rich culture of fashion for centuries and the fascinating stories behind contemporary and avant-garde African brands. The author retells the history of African fashion, exploring Africa's textile traditions, artisanship, and global relevance. It also spotlights Africa's unique position as the global industry shifts towards a more sustainable future. Then it zeroes into the spectacular world of African fashion today. It showcases a carefully curated set of Africa's most dynamic brands and offers rare insight into their ethos and design practice through interviews with prominent and inspiring designers.  

Fashion Africa by Jacqueline Shaw 

This guide to contemporary African fashion, Fashion Africa, is a comprehensive look at what's available for designers who want to work with African materials. Written from an ethical perspective, Shaw promotes Africa as a place not just for sourcing materials, but as a vital epicentre of trade within the global market. One of the first of its kind, Fashion Africa brings together designers and manufacturing businesses from all over the world who have ties to Africa.  

Fashion Illustration Africa: A New Generation by Tapiwa Matsinde 

This visual showcase presents the work of 23 dynamic fashion illustrators and designers. Thanks to social media and the internet's ability for an even playing field, this new generation of African creatives is continuing to make a name for themselves. The book features a great collection of a diverse range of styles, helping to create a unique experience that isn't defined by one form of beauty or style. 

New African Fashion by Helen Jennings 

Jennings explores Africa's influence on designers and creatives all over the world. Building off a brief history of African fashion, style, and beauty, this book includes informative facts as well as interviews from designers such as Duro Olowu, Jewel by Lisa, and Black Coffee. Premium materials that feature natural fibres such as silk and cotton are also explored. 

HON by AFI Summer Issue 2022

This article was first published in the second issue of the HON by AFI digital magazine. Click here to read  

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