No such thing as ‘African fashion’

The Sartists 'Sports Series' © Andile Buka

The exhibition Fashion Cities Africa will open at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on 6 October 2017. Through the eyes of fashion agents from Casablanca, Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and the Netherlands, visitors discover the lively and diverse fashion scenes that shake up the world of fashion. Fashion items, personal accounts, blogs, photographs and films will immerse visitors in a visual spectacle highlighting a number of trends.

From streetwear to couture
Fashion is hot in Africa, but there is no such thing as ‘African fashion’. There are flourishing fashion scenes in several cities, ranging from streetwear to couture, and from experimental to more conventional. The people wearing, creating and studying these fashions use them to display their identity, personal tastes and background. The fashions are often deeply rooted in the city where these people live, the city that holds a mirror to them. Fashion Cities Africa showcases the diversity of fashion in four African cities – full of creativity, inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit.

Local perspective
Fashion Cities Africa explores the urban fashion scenes from the perspective of local designers, stylists, retailers, photographers and bloggers. The brother and sister team behind 2ManySiblings, for example, takes us to the market in Nairobi where they buy second-hand designer clothes in order to restyle them. The exhibition also includes creations by The Sartists (Johannesburg), Said Mahrouf (Casablanca) and the Maki Oh fashion label (Lagos), which is favoured by celebrities such as Beyoncé and Michelle Obama.

Africa in the Netherlands
The Tropenmuseum has also invited four Dutch fashion agents who incorporate their African roots into fashion – Daily Paper, DoruNsimba, Karim Adduchi and Lady Africa – to participate in the exhibition. For Fashion Cities Africa, they share their inspiration, methods and designs with visitors.

Fashion Cities Africa will be organised in collaboration with Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, with sponsorship by BankGiro Loterij and Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.

About the Tropenmuseum
The Tropenmuseum of world cultures celebrates cultural diversity through artifacts and art. On the outside, the museum is an impressive Dutch brick building. Inside, it sparks your curiosity about the enormous cultural diversity that enriches the world. The fresh and contemporary exhibitions tell stories about humankind around the world and show that, despite cultural differences, we’re essentially all the same: human.