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Ever since my fiance came back from his last trip to the Congo bringing me a gorgeous Congolese dress, I’m obsessing over African fashion. Every time I wear my dress, I channel an African queen that I’ve been trying to connect with for a long time. For me, it’s an emotional experience. To the point that I wore it for New Year’s eve because I wanted to channel that vibration. And I love when people ask where the dress is from! And because a trip to the Congo doesn’t happen that often, I made this thorough list of amazing original and African-inspired clothing that you and I can buy from the comfort of our couches! Of course, it’s a list with conscious black-owned businesses that are also working on giving back to the African people.
Why African Inspired Clothing Matters
Fashion is one of the strongest cultural expressions of humankind. Every time we go out, we are wearing clothes. Therefore, every time we run into someone, for the first or millionth time, we leave an immediate impression. No wonder fashion is a powerful cultural domination weapon.
For centuries white men have been advertising and running fashion magazines and the movie industry, defining what aesthetics we should consider chic, cool, and beautiful. Fortunately, there are some outliers creating outstanding African-inspired clothing. Allowing black people to reconnect with their roots and show how beautiful and fashionable tribal-inspired prints and unique African patterns are year-round, not only during Black History Month.
And it’s not about better or worse. It’s about proudly highlighting that black African aesthetics is also beautiful.
Original & African Inspired Clothing Brands
I’ve been trying to connect with my black roots for many years, and as a mixed woman, I feel a bit lost and sometimes an impostor. But my Congolese dress felt different from everything I’ve ever worn. The fabric is high-quality thick cotton, the print is bold and unique, and the dress design is feminine and trendy. I love it! And because a trip to the Congo doesn’t happen that often, I’ve been looking for African-inspired clothing in the US. So, for this post, I make a thorough selection of stellar stores where you can find outstanding African-inspired clothing, accessories, and shoes for men, women, plus size, and children.
Black Owned Business African Marketplace – Clothing | Jewelry | Fabric | Bags & Accessories | Beauty, Wellness & Food | Home & Art
Imagine a black Etsy, commissioning only the best of original or African-inspired clothes, decor, accessories, and even food. That’s Afrikrea, a marketplace featuring thousands of sellers from Africa or from the African diaspora around the world. It’s a one-stop shop for stunning African design. The amount of gorgeous, trendy, and unique pieces you find on Afrikrea is mesmerizing. I’m obsessed with everything, particularly the accessories and the fabrics.
The founders’ mission is to bridge Africa to the world and financially empower African women through fashion, arts, and craft. As Afrikrea says, African natural resources have been taken from them for years, but the art and culture remain strong.
Black Female Owned Business – African Inspired Clothing: Women | Men | Kids | Mommy & Me
Yetunde Olukoya left her career as a medical doctor to design clothes inspired by her Nigerian heritage. As if it wasn’t enough, all clothes are handmade in their facility in Nigeria, employing over 100 women. They also source all the fabric, to make sure you get nothing less than the best African clothes that will not fall apart after a few wears.
BIPOC, Female owned Businness – African Inspired Clothing: Women | Plus Size | Men | Kids | Accessories | His & Hers
Adesola Elabor moved from Nigeria to the USA when she was only 6 years old. Fitting in wasn’t easy, as we can imagine, but growing up she embraced her cultural heritage and created D’Yianu in 2014. She imprints her colorful and bold Nigerian roots into clothes that are trendy and flattering for women, men, and kids. I’m obsessed with their feminine dresses and skirts, of course. D’Yianu’s clothes are made in high-quality fabric, honoring her heritage, but keeping the prices affordable. Good fabric lasts for many years and ancient African prints are timeless, so you’ll be up for stylish and conscious choices. D’Yianu’s next step is to move the manufactory to Africa and make it a full circle.
You’ll find stunning casual and formal African-inspired clothing worthy of a modern queen.
African Inspired Clothing: Women | Loungewear | Swimwear
Öfuurë is 10/10 glamorous African queen aesthetics! From the silk saying pajamas to movie star swimwear, they have African-inspired clothing to dress your royalty mood. It’s the boss diva fashion for sure.
BIPOC, Female owned Businness – African Inspired Clothing: Women | Loungewear | Men | Swimwear | Accessories | His & Hers
Laviye was born from Abiye’s desire to bring her Nigerian heritage into the fashion world and allow black women to connect with their roots. At a certain point in her life and career, she decided to take a break from her Ph.D. to focus on her wellbeing. During this self-discovery journey, she found a purpose and we won the gift!
Her pieces are modern, trendy, and ethically made. “We offer clothing for millennials in the diaspora that are proud of their African heritage – people who love to make a statement and want to wear outfits that make people stare when they walk into a room.”
Inspiring black queens
More African Inspired Clothing
My Search For My Black Heritage
With 54 artificially created countries, the African continent is a rich burst of culture and unique aesthetics. From being forced during slavery to looking for opportunities, the black diaspora shows its colors in the US. According to Pew Research, 46.8 million people in the US identify as black. One of these people is my fiance. He was born in the Congo and lived all over the world with his Ambassador dad before moving to Seattle over a decade ago to work for a big tech company. He is an African-born man, raised in different countries, and an American Citizen by choice. Me, on the other hand, as a mixed woman, always fell in the “not black enough, not white enough” pool.
Growing up I learned that my curly hair was ugly and not sophisticated enough and that my skin color was so sexy that it was sinful. I have no track or any information whatsoever on my family’s origins. My grandfather was black, my dad is mixed and that’s all I know, unfortunately.
But most certainly I never experienced any form of white privilege in my career. Countless times I heard that I didn’t look like a person who could work with numbers, where was my boss to explain the project or the worse, I was too attractive to be taken seriously. And what makes it even crueler is that we are conditioned to accept it as flattering. After all, someone is complimenting you, and many people, including women, will discredit you. Talk about gaslighting! I can’t even imagine how much harder it is for black women, with darker skin complexion, because that’s not my reality.
Turns out that I’m marrying a black African man and we hope to have kids. More than ever I feel the urge to reconnect with my black roots in different ways, and African-inspired clothing and fashion showed themselves as one of the paths I can follow. What about you? How do you feel about your black heritage?