Like all world trends, African fashion is cyclical; what’s in today will be out tomorrow, and vice versa. One of the more popularly worn outfits on the continent at the moment is the African kaftan outfit; also known as the dashiki worn by men both in traditional African cultures and in cosmopolitan African cities such as Lagos, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Accra and others.
Kaftans, or caftans, are traditionally made from cotton or silk fabrics. The word kaftan is of Persian origin and means coat. The kaftans worn in West Africa are typically made from two panels of fabric sewn together at the sides, with a hole in the center for the head to pass through. This style is called an ikat and was introduced by Arab traders to Nigeria and Benin during the eighteenth century. The trading merchants used this cloth as currency because it couldn’t be reproduced easily. Traditionally, kaftan for men was ceremonial attire and as attire for special occasions; today they have become a fashionable choice in other regions of Africa. In Nigeria, men wear them to formal events such as weddings and christenings, but also on weekends when going out on the town or simply hanging out with friends.
Today, Western clothing is a universal symbol of fashion and style. This has been the trend for some time, and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. But why do we wear Western clothing today? In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon. First, Western clothes are most readily available in modern society. They’re typically found in any shopping mall across the country. Second, there is more variety among these garments when compared to traditional styles which can be limiting for many people who want to try something different with their wardrobe choices. Thirdly, contemporary styles are also often considered more comfortable than traditional clothing because they allow people to maintain a good level of personal hygiene with little effort or inconvenience.
The fabric used in Western garments is also typically lighter and thinner than that used in traditional outfits, making them ideal during the warmer months or while travelling overseas where extreme temperatures are commonplace.
main photo: unsplash.com/Rui Silvestre