Half a decade ago, fabric associated with African heritage and identity was worn only during occasions like weddings, funerals, and cultural ceremonies. Recently, however, African wear is becoming an everyday outfit. Undoubtedly, African countries are slowly embracing back their heritage, Kenya being one of them.
African wear can be termed as the clothing originating from traditional African clothing. What’s more is that every African community prides itself in having traditional clothing. Some of the traditional African clothing that identifies African tribes include kente, kanzu, habesha kemis, djellaba, Shuka, dashiki, kitenge, and kikoi among many others.
African wear has become quite popular these days. African products include shirts, dresses, trousers, caps, skirts, shorts, shoes, and accessories. Accessories, for instance, include earrings, necklaces, waist beads, headbands, anklets, and bracelets. Furthermore, African wear is diverse in its patterns and colors showing off the richness of African cultures.
Kenyan identity of the fabric
In Kenya, African fabric is commonly known as kitenge. Kitenge fabric originates from West Africa back in the 18th century. Vlisco, a dutch company began selling handmade fabric created using the “wax ” or “batik” technique in West African coastal areas. Vlisco, then produced a large number of materials mechanically and West Africa proved to be a ready market.
The fabric became popular in Africa since the designs embodied the African taste for bright colors. Patterns included African color schemes and motifs. This paved way for other producers to invest in the market. Designs like the Akwete cloth (Igbo hand-woven textile); Kente cloth and Bogolan largely influenced the market and gave birth to African fashion.
Consequently, African wear interest and demand have grown popular in many towns in Kenya, Eldoret being one of them. This is evident by the growing number of African wear stores and events.
Kitenge fashion festival is one of the many events that Eldoret town hosts to show its love for African fabric. Kitenge fest is an annual fashion festival that provides a platform for runway models to showcase skills and outfits custom-made by African designers. Its theme this year is, promoting and empowering small creative businesses by buying Kenyan products to build Kenya.
Among the designers for this event is BreeAfric collections; located both in Rupa’s mall and Zion Mall Eldoret. This African store has caught the attention of many African-wear lovers from Eldoret. As a matter of fact, it dresses Eldoret’s most loved popular comedian Senge Helena evident from his Instagram posts. Its collections include custom-made and ready-made African outfits for events and day-to-day wear. Its exemplary African designs with a touch of modern taste is what makes the store so popular.
African fashion is growing in Eldoret town and soon, every fashion store will have something African.
Written – Diana Mwei
Instagram – miss_chepng’etich_
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