Africa

habesha kemis avaThe folk dress of Habesha people from Ethiopia and Eritrea is the world-famous habesha kemis. This garment is like a visit card of these countries – when you see a long snow-white dress with colorfully embroidered borders and stylized cross-shaped patterns, you immediately think about Ethiopia or Eritrea, or at least about Africa. These outfits are not only pretty and sophisticated, they became a part of modern fashion culture. Many fashion designers make their contemporary collections based on habesha kemis features and folk embroidery, so these dresses are worn by women in day-to-day life, which is awesome.

Ethiopian couple avaEthiopian people still wear their traditional clothes rather often. Older people and the citizens from the rural area use the folk dress every day. Though in large cities, Ethiopians prefer the western-style clothing, they also get their traditional costumes out of the closet during the festivals, weddings, and national celebrations. It’s not just because of clothing traditions and customs, but also the climate and weather conditions of Ethiopia. The folk costumes were designed to fit the peculiarities of this country perfectly, to give locals the protection from the vagaries of weather, and to make them feel comfortable.

tie dye avaAfrican craftsmen work hard to make the most extraordinary dyed patterns on the fabric. The method is called “tie-dye”. The process itself is rather simple – you can even try to hand dye your clothes at home using this technique. But we’d like to show you how Africans originally tie-dye the cloth, leaving their traditional patterns on it. The act is mesmerizing.

Kente cloth avaKente cloth is one of the African most popular and beloved pieces of clothes. It creates a quintessential African look. This hand-woven fabric is used in both male and female clothing, but the patterns and colors differ according to gender, status, and region of Africa. Historically, kente cloth is the attire of royalty, originating from Ghana. This fabric is so bright, sunny, and cheerful that you feel the temptation to buy one for yourself. But why is it not so good?

Ghanaian couple avaThe traditional costumes of Ghana are not just beautiful. The culture of this country and its ancient heritage influence the folk clothing much. That’s why the designs, fabrics, and patterns aren’t random. They are used by Ghanaians for a long period of time, and therefore, they carry the old knowledge and tradition. At the same time, the national outfit of Ghana looks so bright and festive that it brightens the mood of everyone around.

Ligisa Luo avaMany indigenous tribes around the world use traditional techniques of beadwork to decorate their headpieces, bags, and to make jewelry. And African peoples – Kenyans among them – are also extremely skilled in beading. They create wonderful headdresses covered with beadwork patterns. Another typical feature of Kenyan accessories is that these people have learned to use any available material to make the needed pieces of clothing in their hot and resources-poor environment. That’s why such materials as wood, plant fibers, car tires, animal hides, and bird feathers are traditionally used to make shoes, headdresses, bags, belts, etc.

shuka avaA lot of African traditional articles of clothing are colorful wrap-around garments. And shuka, Kenyan folk garment, is no exception. It is a beautiful multicolored piece worn wrapped around the torso. The shuka is so charming and cheerful that it inspires fashion designers all over the world to create contemporary clothes in the same color palette. Also, some Kenyan tribes still wear original shuka blankets as folk dress today.

Kenya avaKenya doesn't really have a national dress that characterizes traditions, ethnic tastes, culture and rituals of the whole country. Mostly that's because of more than 70 ethnic communities (Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kamba, Kalenjin, Masai etc.) who live in Kenya. They all have some unique traditions in clothing. Though some clothes and fabrics can be called traditional for Kenya. Let's have a look.

Libyan attire avaIn most countries around the planet, traditional clothing is more often worn in daily life by women than by men. But in Libya, the situation is, surprisingly, the opposite. Libyan ladies prefer a hijab to old authentic costumes, while Libyan men use a number of traditional garments, like, jalabiya, sirwal, jarid, shashiyah, etc. And the reason is, besides maintaining the old traditions, that these pieces of clothes were created for the local climate, lifestyle, weather conditions, and customs. The traditional garments fit Libyan life perfectly, so it’s no wonder they’re rather popular.

Libyan clothing avaOne of the designers of clothes in Libya, Nazar Eltim, creates traditional costumes for modern Libyan women. It is a family business for him – his grandfather founded the firm almost 80 years ago. In Mr. Eltim’s store, local females are able to buy a beautiful national outfit for about $800. It is expensive but it’s definitely worth it. The clothing pieces are ornate, made from fine silk and embellished with gold and silver embroidery, gems, beads, and jewelry.

bògòlanfini avaIn Africa, there is a very curious and unique fabric, traditionally handmade and widely used by Malian ethnic groups. This cloth and the outfits made of it are called “Mud cloth”, “bògòlanfini”, “bogolan”, or “Grand Boubou”. The Mud cloth is so interesting because it is dyed with the fermented mud. Where else can you find fabric dyed with mud?! In modern days, the bògòlanfini is exported from Mali worldwide and is used in the fashion industry and interior design.

A ZTraditional pieces of the male and female national costumes in Morocco: abaya, baboush, balgha, burka, burnoose, cheich, deraa, dfina, djellaba, fez, gandora, haik, hijab, kaftan, melhfa, niqab, tagelmoust, tarbouche, tahruyt, tahtia, takshita, taqiyah, and qandrissi.

Moroccan jewelry avaMoroccan women love jewelry. And always have. But Moroccan gold and silver pieces, adorned with precious and semi-precious stones, aren’t just the means to add some chic to the outfit, they are being used as a personal fund of a woman. It all started when banks weren’t as popular and trustworthy as they are now, so people searched for ways to store money and pass the heritage from one generation to the next. High-quality jewelry fits perfectly into this scheme.

Morocco avaThe history of Moroccan folk dress is long and well-preserved. Actually, the cut and main features of the traditional costume in Morocco haven’t changed much throughout centuries, despite the influence of European culture. Even today, local women wear djellabas and kaftans, authentic folk garments adorned with magnificent embroidery, along with intricate headdresses and lots and lots of jewelry pieces. See for yourself how Moroccan traditional clothing was changing during the last 100 years.

Moroccan couple avaMorocco is a country with very rich traditions, a great ethnic diversity, and incredible views. But the clothing traditions of Morocco are even more diverse and colorful. While the traditional male clothing is rather simple and has little embellishments, the female garments are ornate, exquisite, and expensive. The folk dress of Morocco is traditionally made from the natural materials. The most interesting fact about the clothing traditions of Moroccans? A lot of women in this country wear hijab just because of the fashion.

Herero avaMany traditional garments are getting a new life lately, being incorporated into world fashion trends. Modern fashion designers often use old folk clothes styles, embroidery patterns, accessories, etc. in their new collections. Whether it’s because of lack of imagination or due to respect for the traditional culture, many folk garments are back in fashion. And the African Herero dress is one of the latest trends in modern African fashion.

Agbada avaThis outfit looks great – formal and regal. And it’s very different from the popular idea of how African men dress. A lot of people still believe that, in Africa, traditional clothing consists of a loincloth, jewelry, and body paint. That’s not true. We can often describe African folk garments as modest, opulent, and elegant. And agbada is one of such garments, being formal, sophisticated, and beautifully adorned with embroidery.

aso oke avaIn Africa, there are numerous types of traditional textiles produced and used by the local tribes since the beginning of time. In this material, we’ll look at the hand-woven cloth invented by the Yoruba people – the aso oke fabric. The locals in Nigeria and some neighboring territories not only create traditional and ceremonial pieces of clothing from aso oke cloth but even make cute contemporary casual wear from this authentically African fabric.

nigeria avaThe Federal Republic of Nigeria is a not very large, though rather populous country of West Africa. About 150 million of people live in Nigeria. So, the clothing traditions of its population are various. Some of the traditional dresses in Nigeria root back to ancients tribes who lived here centuries ago, others were formed by the influence of British, Portuguese and French colonizers (19-20th centuries). Today many people in Nigeria use modern clothes, western style of attire. But still there are a lot of Nigerians who prefer to wear the traditional dress of Nigeria in everyday life.

Rwandan women avaIn Rwanda, people are trying to restore the tradition of wearing the national garment of the country – an elegant female mushanana. This attire is a little bit similar to a very simply draped Indian sari. But it is historically used in Africa and is a large part of Rwandan culture. Today, the mushanana is gaining more and more popularity among young women of Rwanda. We’ll introduce this garment to you and share some secrets of wearing the mushanana correctly.

Senegalese boubou avaIn many African countries, the traditional costume requires meters and meters of colorful fabric decorated with African ethnic motifs, intricate head ties, and multicolored beaded jewelry. Some tribal outfits still consist only of small loin-cloths and plenty of beaded adornments, which have been traditional for many centuries in a row, but at the same time, we mostly see large loose robes, modest dresses, and male tunics + trousers as African national clothing these days. And in this post, we’ll have a closer look at Senegalese traditional attire.

somali-couple avaPeople of Somalia use their national costumes rather often. Unlike Europeans who take the traditional clothing out of the closet only for festivals and special occasions, Somalis use such garments in day-to-day life. Only in big cities people wear Western dress every day, but use traditional costumes for events and special occasions. As the climate in Somalia is hot, people cover most of the body from scorching sun and use natural materials to make clothing. They also wear loose garments (even men prefer skirt-like clothing) to prevent overheating.

Afrofuturism11 avaSouth Africa is a multicultural country with a long and complicated history. Its clothing traditions are very interesting because they are so diverse. We can’t name just one official national costume of South Africa. Every ethnic group in this part of the world has its own folk dress, heritage clothing, traditional accessories, etc. So, let’s look at the traditional outfits of the biggest local ethnic groups – Xhosa, Ndebele, Zulu, and Venda.

outlook2 avaSudan is a country with typically African climate, very hot and sunny. Of course, the clothes have to be special for people to cope with such severe weather conditions. And that’s where jalabiya comes in – this robe is extremely handy. It’s light, natural, modest, and perfect for Sudan. So, let’s find out more about jalabiya: design, cut, color palette, material, etc.

sudan avaSudan is a large African country with strong Islamic and Christian traditions. Religions and beliefs of local people have a great influence on the national clothing of Sudan. As climate conditions do. Those are the reasons for Sudanese people to wear loose-fitting long attires which cover most of the body. These dresses and robes are made of light natural fabrics. Sudanese people also cover their heads: women with scarves and men with turbans. Headgears serve both for religious purposes and for protection from the sun. Western-style dresses are also used in Sudan, but they're rarer than traditional ones.

Swaziland avaA lot of people think that African traditional clothing is the same for any ethnic group on the continent. But that’s wrong. Actually, there are many garments specific for a certain ethnos. And today, we’d like to show you the women’s folk garment used by the females of Swaziland. It’s rather simple but tidy and meaningful. And, by the way, pretty modest, as there is an opinion that African people wear only loincloths and roam around with bare torsos. Let’s bust a few myths about African traditional outfits.