African textiles have made a massive impression in the fashion high streets of the West and mainstream fashion designers are charging hundred’s and in some cases thousands of pounds. Now, for the cost of a flight back to Africa, you could pick up a few tailor-made bespoke outfits to rock on any runway.
Here is a quick guide to some of the main places you could visit to get your perfect outfit.
In Ghana, some of the best places for snapping up Kente cloth are local markets, our favorites are Central Market in Kumasi and Makola Market in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. More recently, polished and air conditioned shops selling traditional prints, such as Woodin and Vlisco, can be found in modern shopping malls across West Africa. Here you will find the traditional prints, but predominately with their own modern designs. Their cloth is certainly qualitative, however more pricey than the marketplaces, and in our opinion the experience is not as fun!
Ivorian fabrics are very much in vogue, and are sold across West, East and Southern Africa. The Ivorian prints have a distinctly contemporary look, with dynamic but slightly softer colours. If you want to purchase some Ivorian print straight from the source then head to Adjame Market in Abidjan, which while not for the faint hearted, has a wonderful selection.
One of The Estate's favourite markets is Lagos’ Balogun Market, it is a feast for the eyes. Nigerian women don’t hold back when it comes to dressing up, not even the market traders. Women with big characters dominate the arena (as is found all over Africa), resplendent in flamboyant traditional attire and ostentatious headdresses.
Senegal’s Kermel Market is a good place to pick up some delicate tie-dye fabrics, produced mainly by the Desert People of Mauritania and Mali, which are inked in beautiful and unexpected ways.
East African fabric has not penetrated the global market as the West has, however, some of the most beautiful sarongs and shawls come from East Africa. The luminous colours of these simple woven textiles often with shaggy borders are breath taking. Gabi and Netella are variations of Ethiopian shawls, and you may find lovely specimens for purchase at the Shiro Meda Market in Addis Ababa.
All over Africa, contemporary design is flourishing, so many international fashion designers are creating their unique interpretation of the iconic African fabric. We believe innovation is the key to the future of international relevance and acceptance of African brands and culture. Doing this well is the key to becoming more widely accepted into the mainstream.
The Estate are in support of so many African designers such as Claude Kamanie the creator of Lavie by Ck (featured above in Janet Jackson's video Made for Now), Maxhosa by Laduma, Sikah Design, Taibo Bacar, luxury footwear designer Jesu Segun and organisations that help with the enhancement and development of African brands such as the Ethical Fashion Initiative. Connect with The Estate and extend your reach into retail and benefit from our network of influence globally, let us help you tell your story.