Slow Fashion in Africa

Slow Fashion in Africa

The true essence of slow fashion is that it is thoughtful, intentional and holistic. Unifying sustainability, the term is imbued with ethics that encourages people to invest in meticulously made, durable clothing that lasts long and signifies a strong bond towards the culture


Like all of our ancestors, Africans wore natural materials derived from animals, and trees. Over time and influence weaving techniques became prevalent. Raffia (palm plant fibre) and cotton became the most mainstream materials. Ghana's Kente cloth, Mali's mud cloth, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo's tufted Kuba cloth gripped people's attention. The beauty and intricacy of each textile represented the cultures. 


In the present era, tapping the doors of sustainability is the only viable option. Many brands in Africa are now starting to unearth traditional and local solutions. Although the wave of slow fashion in Africa is not new, the recent announcement by South African Fashion Week, introduced their next edition of non-traditional and sustainable collections. This ignited many brands to think about sustainable options.


Fashion entrepreneur Ayotunde Rufai says that he ardently supports African designers who work on the lighter product scale. The designers had always preached sustainability before it became fashionable. 


Given the temperate climate that exists throughout most of the continent, Africa ascertains a competitive edge because its fashion is not dependent on seasonal trends compared to other markets.


There is a strong knit between culture and the present desire to educate. Colonization,  religious fervor, and globalization has disrupted authentic cultural expression.


The creative industry in Africa is set to reinvent its ideologies and explore novel sustainable solutions through a traditional lens. Homegrown industries are becoming a major proponent in prioritizing local production. Made to order models are becoming widely prevalent. Fashion labels are experimenting  in extracting the most out of prevalent materials, including bamboo, tree bark, silk and second hand clothing. 


Africa's prioritization of  slow fashion will have many fashion industries confront the elephant in the boardroom and allow them to envision ideas that will reap fruitful results that are not only environmental but also economical. Slow fashion provides space for the creator and consumer to revel in their culture without compromising modernity.