I fell in love with local prints and custom-made designs on my first trip to Ghana nearly ten years ago. How was it that I had made it nineteen years on earth without realizing that I could purchase and co-design beautiful and vibrant clothing made to fit me like a glove? And on the cheap!?? I hadn’t been living. Suffice to say, I was instantly hooked, so much so that the luggage full of clothes from home was quickly and inexpensively replaced with a Cape Coast-made wardrobe.
But my excitement fizzled each time I returned to the US and couldn’t enjoy the same shopping experience. I was relegated to department store sample size garments with limited styles and fit options. Further, I didn’t know any local Ghanaian seamstresses who could hook up all the fabric I had purchased and brought back with me. I was stuck, and began the practice of waiting until my next trip to rock the hottest designs.
Luckily, you don’t have to do that! The last couple of years have birthed online shopping options for custom-made African-inspired clothing. And even better news: it’s pretty affordable.
Here are 3 African women’s fashion lines to support:
At D’iyanu (dee-ya-new), you can purchase everything from maxi skirts, to headwraps, to high-waisted shorts. Addie Olutola launched the company in 2014 to give buyers a Nigerian-inspired line that blends western and African culture.
The Zuvaa line is a bit more extensive, and offers accessories and outfits by occasion and fabric. The icing on the cake is that founder Kelechi, who identifies as African American by way of Nigeria, custom designs shoes. Yes, honey. SHOES. Zuvaa also debuted in 2014.
For those of you with a slightly larger budget (of just a budget that is bigger than mine!), Kisua offers a high-end collection designed by a pan-African cast of designers. We’re talking Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, and Nigeria, just to name a few of the nations represented. Samuel Mensah launched Kisua in 2013 to give talented designers the obvious shine they deserve in the international market.
I love so many things about these fashion lines! I love the entreprenuerial hustle that the creators have demonstrated launching their own lines instead of waiting for a mainstream company to take note. I love that the the lines illustrate the syncretization of local and Western cultures– which has been a staple in African societies for centuries–to the world. I respect the diversity of styles and prices that the lines present: It’s cool as hell that I can’t afford (or maybe won’t cuz I’m cheap) some of the looks on Kisua. Black fashion doesn’t have to be synonymous with inexpensive, in quality or price. I love that! And these lines represent some looks I would wear in a hearbeat, while others are not for me at all. I love that the collections have the freedom to even have hits and misses. I find this all refreshingly inspiring.
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