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How to Pull Off Afrocentric Fashion

Black lives matter. And no, this isn’t the movement against racism. It’s an appreciation for all things black ranging from our unique natural hair to natural hairstyles like Bantu knots, and Afrocentric fashion which is a part of our identity. 

As the name implies, anything Afrocentric refers to Africans. So, when we say Afrocentric fashion, we say African-focused fashion without mincing words.

African ladies wearing Afrocentric fashion attire

I’m pretty sure you must have heard of this term. Maybe while scrolling through Instagram and reading the captions (or bios) of some fashion brands. And if you’ve ever wondered what it entails or how you can create a wardrobe of powerful Afrocentric pieces, wonder no more.

Ric Hassani wearing agbada

This piece you’re reading will show you all you need to know about Afrocentric fashion (and how to adopt it). Don’t leave this page until you arrive at the last word.

So, shall we dive in already?

How did Afrocentrism Begin?

lady wearing Afrocentric outfit in an ankara shop

While we can say that Afrocentrism began when the black race was created, we have Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor to thank for the origin of this movement. 

Ever since our white brothers traded Africans as slaves and colonized us without any regard for our culture and language, a feeling of discomfort was planted in our hearts.

man repping in his Afrocentric outfit

This discomfort also came with a consciousness to recognize our identity and that was how Césaire and Senghor defined the term “negritude” to mean the physical state of the black person, which is blackness.

Afrocentrism is a political and socio-cultural movement that upholds the African identity. It places the black race on a superior pedestal and sees every black person as an African regardless of where they live.

lady wearing mixed African print outfit

Different scholars have their takes on the concept of negritude and Afrocentricity. And all their opinions boil down to one fact: the feeling of liberation and ethnocentrism to Africans.

Furthermore, fashion being a visual medium of self-expression says this well. With prints and designs peculiar to the black race, Africans within and abroad say with one voice that their culture is worth clinging on to.

Types of Afrocentric Fashion

lady wearing Afrocentric dashiki gown

Afrocentric clothing features long-established textiles, selected apparel motifs, production, and cutting methods peculiar to Africa. Even though some people argue that Afrocentrism embeds western culture, it still pays particular details to African culture and portrays it. 

man wearing Afrocentric outfit with leather bag

They usually feature African textiles such as ankara, aso-oke, kente, indigo cloth,  mud cloth, barkcloth, etc. These garbs include:

But they aren’t exactly how they used to be back in the day. Some of these clothing have been reinvented to feature modern trends. That’s why you can see a woman wear a suit made with aso-oke, kente, or ankara.

Why Wear Afrocentric Fashion?

lady wearing African print outfit]

Most Afrocentrists wear these garbs to:

1. Express the African Identity

men wearing Afrocentric fashion outfits

Like every other negro movement, African-ethnocentric fashion first and foremost preserves the African identity. It says without a mouth that we believe in our race regardless of how far and wide the slave trade and colonialism must have spread our tentacles to.

It’s an open proclamation of African diaspora culture and black nationalism.

2. Express Their Style

lady wearing African prit outfit

These outfits are unique and fashionable. They’ve also gained global grounds and this itself has turned them into elegant desiderata. They mostly come in fine prints and fabrics that are unique to each piece.

Wearing one not only shows you appreciate African culture. It also flaunts your sense of style.

3. Comfort 

lady wearing Afrocentric fashion gown

Most afrocentric garbs are made with natural fabrics that offer no discomfort to your skin. For instance, you can hardly get an ankara fabric that itches you.

What’s more? The styles seldom restrict body movement. You can wear them and feel as free as you want unless of course, you chose an uncomfortable style.

Afrocentric fashion recognizes the fact that comfort is pertinent in fashion and this makes them a must-have for every fashion enthusiast.

How to Build an Afrocentric Wardrobe

man rocking modern Afrocentric outfit

As you earlier read, afrocentric pieces have been reinvented. They are now a hybrid of African attires and contemporary fashion. All thanks to our fashion designers.

Now, you can wear these pieces to work, worship centers, or any casual or formal gathering. But how do you make afrocentric fashion a part of your wardrobe? By doing the following:

1. Select Your Fabric

lady wearing African print outfit

It all begins with the textiles. It is the fabric that gives these garbs the African finish. You have a range of African fabrics to choose from and create your African-ethnocentric garbs.

Go for any of them and proceed to the next tip.

2. Go for a Style that Suits You

lady wearing ankara dress in the woods

Would you rather rock a shirt alone? If yes, go for Dashiki. Or do you want a two-piece? Maybe any of the senator styles would suit you.

Or you just wanna rock a skirt and blouse or something as loose as a dress? That’s fine. A kaftan could work. Just make sure Africanness is a major element of your look.

You can either do so by strictly sticking to an African attire or by using your African prints to create contemporary fashion in a way that promotes African culture.

3. Go for Afrocentric Accessories

lady wearing ankara outfit with matching headwear

Your headwraps, pocket fillers, beads, bags, footwear, etc., fall here. The key is to ensure they are made with African fabrics. 

For example, Ankara bags, shoes, and jewelry are great accessories to express Afrocentricity.

And that’s a wrap! But before you leave, do you know that Afrocentric fashion has blended with streetwear outfits to spearhead another fashion style? Wanna know more about this style? Read up our guide on afro-urban fashion right away.

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or sketching fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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