The Fashion of Afrofuturism
It’s no secret that the entire continent of Africa was robbed of a brighter future through colonization, slavery, and much more. Our direction was forever altered, and we make the best of what we have every day. We are still strong, we are still beautiful, and we are still here. But what if we could have more?
Afrofuturism answers that exact question. It’s a cultural movement that envisions a beautiful sci-fi future incorporating the entire African diaspora. You’ve heard of a dystopian Africa, right? Now imagine an African utopia! Using history, science-fiction, mysticism, and technology, creators explore the African American experience through the voice and vision of the African diaspora. Forget about the way the white side of Hollywood sees Africa. These are black voices using Africa’s soul to paint a picture of a fantastical future.
So what’s the most common thing in every culture? It’s the need to artistically express themselves. And what better avenue to explore than the fashion in Afrofuturism and the designers who bring it to life.
Selly Raby Kane
Selly Raby Kane is a Senegalese fashion designer known for her surrealist streetwear, which merges traditional African prints with contemporary cuts. Leaving law school for fashion, Kane developed an avant-garde aesthetic that uses different influences like sci-fi, surrealism, and nature. Her ingredients are wax print, bazin, fake hair, PVC, leather, and denim. With them, she goes beyond her own style by using challenging silhouettes that help her create her own fantastical alternate reality.
Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo built her global reputation on her modern transformations of Ankara. Her colorful collections fuse traditional Ankara prints and fabrics with western tailoring and beaded embellishments. Her designs have been worn by Issa Rae, Solange Knowles, Lupita Nyong'o, and many more.
Ruth E. Carter
Ruth E. Carter is a special note on our list. She’s American and primarily a costume designer for film and television, not an outright fashion designer. But, with 40 films under her belt, what makes her relevant to us today is her Academy-Award-winning designs for the Marvel movie Black Panther—the poster child for Afrofuturism. Every costume was inspired by many traditional African methods, including traditions from the Maasai and Ndebele people. And with over 100 buyers scouring Nigeria and South Africa, she created terrific pieces using authentic African materials.