Thursday, 24 May 2012

Retro is the New Memo

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People do not want to leave/abandon their own culture, but at the same time want to engage in other cultures and have an international experience. Gone are the days where 'coming abroad' was to do away with everything that is from 'home'. Now, retro is the new memo. I say 'retro' for two reasons; firstly, the current trend is print- which goes back in time where print was established traditional clothing in Africa. Secondly, it seems like we are back in the 60s where block colours are celebrated together- the more the merrier.

We see a revolution of African print take the front seat on the runways of London and New York. No longer do African-inspired print take the back stage to everything that is chic and class- its quite the opposite. The fashion industry has been hit. I'm not just talking about new African designers or businesses trying to promote the African attire. Even Burberry is now smothered in African-inspired print. There's no mistake as to this phenomenal direction in fashion; whilst Africa is still an undeveloped continent with so many untapped resources, its peculiar and bold qualities have made it an epitome of fashion breakthrough.

Burberry Prorsum Womenswear S/S12 Show

I personally believe that we have our African designers and its outspoken individuals to thank for what I believe is a sustained success. They have been loyal to their heritage whilst proving their relevance in the developed world. The artist that really caught my interest was Adjoa Osei.

Adjoa's most recent collection called 'Adapt', quotes:

'Gone are the days when prints were sporadically featured in 'safari' inspired collections or dusted off for cultural celebrations. Prints defy seasonal trends, and can be dressed up or pared down.' And nothing says more than a seasonal trend than a high-waisted pleated leather skirt (below) coupled with African-woven print and ribbon. I think that such delicate and sophisticated combinations is why I, and we as a nation, continue to adore the Afrocentric style. Now on the streets of London we see clothing with colours and designs that my grandmother in Nigeria would have worn in her 30s/40s. Today, the African print meets you where ever you are in the world. For the high-street shoppers, you don't have to look far to find something afro-centric- inspired. H&M's latest magazine edition features Vlisco in its Fashion News for prints, along side Vivienne Westwood and Timorous Beasties.

Adjoa Osei (Adapt Collection)

But from a critical perspective- is this marriage of the western world and Africa really a recognition of style from Africa, or just the product of globalisation?

Whatever the case, African print is a force to be reckoned with in this industry.