Well, a while back, there was no such thing as African fashion for men as the western culture had crept in the African society and almost got rid of the rich African tradition that was meant to serve as the backbone of the communities. Other than food, beliefs and cultural activities, African wears heavily affected a majority of the people, especially men; switching to wearing jeans and T-shirts from the western societies.
Fortunately, the continent has risen and taken back its pride through the clothes and fashion industry. Lately, there are so many African fashion wears for men being showcased on the runway by tall, energetic African models that can be rather difficult to keep track of the best of them all. Nonetheless, there are some latest designs that have been well styled to suit the modern African man but with a touch of traditional African creativity.
Traditional African fashion trends for men
When coming up with African wear fashion for men, the only way for the designers to beat the competition and be ahead of the game is by being as unique as possible. But as luck would have it, being unique is not a worrying factor for the stylists as there are so many unique traditional clothing from all over the continent ranging from the northern, southern, western and eastern parts that make each region stand out on its own.
One of the very important elements that make the African fashion style for men be unique is the type of material used. Each region prides itself on having a one of a kind material that can be used to make the best clothing designs for its male gender. For instance, the eastern region, particularly Uganda and Tanzania, is well acknowledged for the Kitenge and Leso respectively. The Dashiki and Ankara materials are also among the unique and well-loved materials that have a rich history in the continents’ line of clothing and even contributed magnificently in the African fashion 2018 for men as the designers, with their creative minds blended the traditional and modern touch in their styles.
Even though there are so many latest African fashion for men, many of the traditional materials and styles can never be ignored when talking about the African clothing and fashion as a whole. There are some traditional styles that represent the Africa that is still loved by many. Some of them are mentioned below:
The Kente material
As unique as the name may sound, the Kente cloth has a rich history originating from the western African region, particularly Ghana, by the Akan people. Its name is derived from the word Kenten, meaning basket, as the original Kente weavers used palm leaf fibers and wove them to make clothes that resemble baskets. However, other communities such as the Asante refer to the same material as ‘Nwentoma’ meaning ‘woven cloth’. Nevertheless, whichever the name used, the material is usually viewed as an icon of African culture not only in Africa but across the globe.
Just to show how magnificent the material is, there is a legend story behind it that depicts how creative two hunters found themselves watching a spider making a web in the forest and keenly observed for two days before implementing what they had seen at their homes with a unique material that later on became the famous Kente cloth.
It was originally made from white cotton with some creative indigo pattern running across but later evolved when the Portuguese introduced their silk material in Africa. This not only affected its quality but also the layout of the patterns as a whole as the art and material gradually started snaking into other western African regions.
Being a traditional cloth, it was mainly worn during special occasions and ceremonies such as weddings or child naming. Other than that, it was also regarded as an emblem of respect for the dead or during the remembrance of ancestors. Interestingly, the old cultural practice has not faded even in this modern era which is filled with so many cultural interference from the western communities. It’s still a sacred and royal piece of cloth worn during very important occasions such as graduation.
Even though Ghana is well known for this piece of material, it’s also made in Ivory Coast by the Akan people like the Anyin and Baoule, who in as much as they may be inhabiting such a region, they still trace their origin back in Ghana way before the dominance of the Ashanti Empire. It’s from such communities that the west African region nowadays prides itself for that unique piece of cloth to an extent where it became a national dress for Ghana, making stylists, year in year out to come up with latest elegant with traditional African fashion designs for men as well as women.
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The Kitenge material
The Kitenge or rather Chitenge as commonly referred in some countries such as Malawi, Namibia and Zambia is a piece of cloth that has really made its way not only in East African countries but also the western and central Africa as well. It’s a very popular piece of cloth and in as much as it has its origin in East Africa, it's widely worn in central Africa and western African countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Liberia, Nigeria and Ghana among others.
Its unique typical design of the patterns which is made from the traditional batik method is what drove many designers to come up with elegant yet simple African fashion styles for men, women, and children. The passion for the stylists was also driven by the fact that some countries such as Malawi encouraged wearing of Chitenges to promote African products.
However, the significance of the material was not solely made for fashion and clothing alone but rather as a symbol for various things during special occasions such as unity and identity during political forums. Additionally, in Malawi, the kitenges are usually worn during funerals which are rather customary for them. They are also typically used as gifts for women as well as a decorative piece of cloth hang on the walls.
With its popularity across many regions of the continent, it’s no wonder this material has never faded in the market despite being viewed as a traditional garment. Its loved by many Africans and even seen as a tool for connecting African members through cultural heritage.
The Dashiki cloth
When reminiscing about the vintage African fashion design for men, the Dashiki cloth never seems to fade from the minds of many. It’s one type of garment that typically denotes an African origin. It has been on the market ever since the 1960’s and its demand never seem to end, not with the rich history that hovers around its name and unique design. It’s usually a loose pullover kind of cloth made of cotton and has a deep V neck that in most cases has a printed design or better still has some embroidery on it.
The unique Dashiki name originates from the Yoruba word, ‘Danshiki’ which basically referred to as a ‘work shirt’. However, as for the Hausa people ‘dan ciki’ was a term that meant an under tunic. Its history dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries where tunics that resembled the modern type were found in the burial mounds in Mali.
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However, in as much as it has some historical and traditional attributes in it, the dashiki garment can still be worn for either formal or informal events. Their design symbolizes elegance and pride for the African continent. It’s no wonder it became very popular with African diplomats representing the continent overseas. Other than that, the shirt was also worn in many cases by entertainers, students, artists as well as political activities.
The sense of pride that comes with it, is what makes dashiki the kind of cloth that is here to stay. Currently, designers have also come up with dashiki dresses that are also loose and free with its length going up to the ankle or mid-calf mainly for women in their beach wear or simply serving as hostess. They are usually simple and graceful bringing with a sense of comfort in hot weather and still attractive to the eye. Nonetheless, there are also some warmer dashiki fabrics conducive for cooler seasons.
Latest African fashion styles for me
Men are slowly appreciating fashion as shown in the video above. There is no better way of describing designers’ high level of creativity than through the latest African styles for men. Designers, many of whom are from the continent, are using their diversity in coming up with elegant and classy fashion trends that have not only been embraced by the Africans but other people from across the globe as well. They match modern designs with the traditional African styles that vividly reveals the continent’s rich pride in its people.
For a very long time, Africans have been turning to the western culture for fashion trends and creativity without realizing that they are sitting on a gold mine with their own form of creativity and uniqueness. Fortunately, the impeccable work of the stylists not only in the men category but also women, teenagers and children as well have made the continents to mark a spot in the fashion world as famous and well-celebrated personalities are now proudly donning the Made-In-Africa labels on their world tours.
The use of African own kind of materials and the nationalization of its own brand is what has greatly channeled the continent into greatness. There are very many kinds of materials that are unique to only Africa as a continent and even though many of them have rich history and a sense of pride tagged on them, the latest type of materials such as the Ankara, Atiku fabrics and Batakari have played a crucial role in taking Africa to the greater heights in this competitive fashion industry.
The Batakari which is also known as the smog or fugu is one of the latest African fashion dresses for men that has taken the world by storm and widely trending across various western states. It also originates in Ghana just like Kente Cloth, however, Batakari originated from the northern parts of Ghana and also has no deeper history like the former. Nonetheless, they both share the same tag as a national dress of Ghana and hence highly valued.
The Smog is usually a plaid shirt and similar to Dashiki and even though it was initially worn by men, latest trends and designs have been made to incorporate women as well with classy dresses and skirts going rounds the major stores. The shirt is typically made of strip cloths which are hand loomed strips made by blending undyed and dyed cotton loom obtained from mainly northern Ghana and other particular western African regions. The strips which are sewn together by mostly hand or machine give the fugu a plaid outlook once it's complete.
The Ankara cloth with its exquisite sense of style also makes another unique fashion African dresses for men which have been raising eyebrows in the international runways turning heads of the participants and receiving all the attention it demands. It’s also from the western African region but unlike Kente and Smog, its originated from Nigeria and not Ghana. Even though its mostly worn for official purposes to replace the conventional suit and tie kind of attire, it can also blend well with a casual look when guided by an experienced stylist.
Generally, African outfits have proven to be outstanding, elegant yet still remain within the traditional and cultural range which for many parts of the world, the foreign designers have failed to master the concept.