A rose by any other name…

May 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Depending on what part of Africa you’re from – or relate to – you call it by different names. The fabric is – KITENGE – in East Africa, but if you go a little south of that you might call it CHITENGE. If you are in Southern Africa it might be SHWE SHWE to you and in the West you would refer to it as ANKARA. I am betting there are more names…

No, its not making a comeback…it’s making a breakthrough. The fashion show I attended last week reminded me of this. Kitenge/Shweshwe/Ankara has always been around and is sort of an African stable but is now being re-introduced in the 21st century. A new generation of Africans is re-inventing themselves and this is becoming a big part of their new image, which is perfect because it is quintessentially African. There are many labels including foreign designers buying into this now Afro-boheme, Afro-chic look.

As I am a bit of an Afro-traditionalist so I really love Bongiwe Walaza designs. You can see some of her past looks here on Mimi magazine’s blogspot.
If you live in the US a lot of these clothing don’t function as normal every day wear. You’re either going to something where they can make a statement or a function. But generally if you have a 9-5 then the general feeling is that it might be ‘too much’ for work. This is partly a problem of perception both by self and by others. That’s one of the reasons I like Bongiwe Walaza’s stuff its so WEAR-TO-WORK African. These, together with lots of all the other new looks means that my wardrobe will soon be able to go from work to evening to club in African wear. That would be fabulous !


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