Remember the days when your parents would dress you up in Polo(assn) shirts, phat farm jean shorts, and fake nike shoes, and all the other kids would make fun of you and call you “African booty scratcher”? Or may be that was just me. Well now, we have clothing brands from African designers that make us proud to wear our culture, and look fresh while doing so. From tees, to swimwear, and to even skateboards, here are 7 clothing brands that are making culture cool again.
7. Pidgin English
The Language of Commerce. Pidgin English is a newcomer in this arena but has a bright future. This brand uses their interpretations of African culture and influences and express it through garments. Their collection so far includes hoodies, tees, tank tops with the brand and shield logo, but judging by the teasers they have been dropping lately, 2018 will be the come up year for the brand.
Created by Joan and Doreen Caven, Popcaven fuses art, retro-nostalgia, and African heritage into an all around cohesive brand made for a casual day. Their niche comes from flipping popular staples in the mainstream culture (like Coca-Cola), and flipping it into the “African version”. Their love for retro art is what makes this special. Their “Pop X” platform gives other artists and creatives an opportunity to showcase their artistry and gain an audience.
RiverisWild is a lifestyle brand that does an exemplary job of fusing western aesthetics with African influences. Their Fall collection featured tees, hoodies, bomber jackets, and more. What this brand does better than the rest is the presentation. From the website, to photoshoots, to all the extras that come included in your order, everything is created with the customer in mind. The designer Akinwale Akinbiyi has developed a way to infuse his Nigerian roots into the products in a not so obvious way, which makes it even more intriguing. He even has plans to create a “Fela tribute tee” that doesn’t have his name or have a picture of him on it. Check out my interview with the designer here.
4. ORANGE CULTURE
Orange Culture is an Androgynous brand that fills a void in urban contemporary fashion in Nigeria. Orange Culture has had a great year, being featured in top fashion publications such as Elle, Marie Claire, and Vogue just to name a few. This year they even had a collaboration with Davido called “IF”, based on his song of the same name. The collection has been on numerous runways and it important for a brand like this to remain prevalent because not everyone fits in to the “streetwear” category, especially in our ever so diverse and growing African culture.
WAFFLESNCREAM is a Lagos-based, Nigerian skateboard crew and brand that is currently making waves all over the internet being featured on everything from, CNN to Highsnobiety. They’re currently creating a name for themselves and building up skate culture in Nigeria, even ushering in Lagos’ participation in Go Skateboarding Day. This year they dropped their first apparel collection features breezy button-downs, colorful tees with fun prints, and eye-catching ankara print pants. This collective is literally breaking the ceiling when it comes to being creative in Nigeria, and are shifting the culture of the youth.
2. OLORI SWIM
Your WCW was most likely wearing this in Summer ’17. Infusing traditional designs patterns such as ankara and kente into swimwear is genius. From thong sets, bikinis, and more, Oloriswim made a stamp this year as hottest brand for your girl during the hottest season of the year. Also doesn’t hurt that all their models were beautiful.
At the number one spot, we have Mizizi. From the mind of Paakow Essandoh, this brand has been killing it for the past couple years now. Specializing in jerseys, they have a product for every country in Africa, the Caribbean, and even dropped an AfroLatino collection this year. There’s nothing that gives you greater pride of where you come from than having your country front and center on your jersey. Perfect for personal use or group photoshoots, kudos to Mizizi for changing the culture.
Bonus: AfriTribe Retired!
Yes I retired AfriTribe this year! One of the first brands that started the wave of “African influenced Streetwear” in America since 2012. A lot of people kept asking why, and simply I never thought myself as a “fashion designer” and lost passion for it. Plus I was able to transform it into the platform that you’re on now – Onetribe Mag. Speaking of which, look out for OTM Merch in 2018 😉