Culture-Shifting Streetwear Brands Rooted in Africa
|© Modus Vivendii|
Starting off as a movement about skate and hip hop culture, the rise of streetwear has changed what it means to be fashionable in the 21st century. Derived from underground movements, streetwear is about more than wearing colorful sneakers and hoodies. It tells the story of a collective cultural conscience while allowing for individual expression. Streetwear on the African continent in the past was largely influenced by mainstream American and European brands. However, streetwear in Africa has started to make a name for itself with its own unique designs and stories to tell. Going across the continent we were able to pick out some of the top streetwear brands in Africa that are making a name for themselves.
Mix vintage African photos, traditional proverbs, Egyptian hieroglyphics, with funky designs, and you’ll get the Afrikanista. The line of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and accessories pays homage to older generations of sub-Saharan and West African cultures. Created back in 2014 by Aisse Ndiaye, the streetwear brand has managed to grow overnight when it received Beyonce’s stamp of approval when she was in South Africa for the Global Citizens Festival. In the 7 years, the brand has been around Afrikanista has seen a lot of success and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
A fan favorite, Modus Vivendii, loosely translated to “Our Way of Living”, has been keeping Nigerian millennials fresh for over 10 years. Started in 2011 as a blog showcasing the style of three friends, they quickly grew to international fame with features in Vogue Italia, Hypebeast, and Highsnobiety. They’ve even done some collaborations with Off White, Nike, and are featured in some Japanese boutiques. Although originally starting off as a menswear line, MV soon distinguished itself as a unisex brand with its muted color and loose-fitting clothing. The messaging behind the brand promotes freedom of expression and inclusivity, and wearing anything with an MV logo will surely garner some attention.
A Paris based label with Moroccan roots, Casablanca is a high-end streetwear design that manages to fuse elegance, simplicity, and a renaissance flair all in one. Casablanca gives off the image of travel and luxury, which is a prominent theme in their colorful silk shirts and well-tailored pants. The brand advertises itself as a menswear brand, but both genders have been seen rocking several pieces from their collections. Although Casablanca doesn’t have the rough outer exterior of a typical streetwear brand the spirit and theme of the company definitely make it one to look out for.
Free The Youth
What makes a brand street is combining social impact with design, and Free the Youth streetwear brand definitely have both down. As a self-branded NGO, Free the Youth is known as the biggest fashion brand to come out of Ghana. FTY is all about reflecting the true nature of the Ghanian youth. While the brand is in high demand they manage to keep prices low and use excess profits to give back to the community. Many of their designs take inspiration from Ghana’s underground music scene, which truly gives the brand its local edge. In the future FTY is looking to push the boundaries of fashion and social enterprise by turning the brand into a lifestyle moniker.
If you’re wondering where to show off your Kenyan pride, ChilliMango is a great brand to start with. A social entrepreneur group from Nairobi, ChilliMango produces traditional African designs with modern technological elements creating an Afro-Urban aesthetic. They specialize in crafting handmade clothes, jackets, bags, and homeware with khanga and graphic designs. ChilliMango is passionate about Africa, culture, and art and holds pop up events annually to connect fans, collectors, and artists alike.