While it might seem cliché to turn to nature for spring dressing inspiration, the natural world is a timeless go-to for a reason. Beyond the typical floral prints, designers look to the sea, sky, and mountains, replicating the surrounding environment through print, pattern, texture, and material. Biomimicry refers to how scientists borrow elements from nature to create new technologies and ideas in the science field. Fashion has followed suit with labels looking to unconventional materials such as bone and cow horns or exploring flora and fauna of their immediate environments. Explore our edit of fashion and accessories that mimic nature in look and spirit.
Birds of a Feather
Be as free as a bird this Spring with relaxed, breezy offerings from Hamaji and Taibo Bacar, who offer warm-weather looks that draw inspiration from the skies. Ideal for easy dressing, Hamaji's palazzo pants will become a staple this season with their wide-leg, flowing silhouette and flattering high-waist. The Southern Carmine Bee Eater motif is complete with traditional woodblock printing, using natural dyes to preserve traditional artisanal techniques. The simple shape, muted color, and silk-like texture make this great for pairing with a range of flowing tops and t-shirts, whether running errands or hanging out at the beach. The Red Mandevo Shirt Dress is a tad more formal, made of silk-sateen with crystal and faux-feather cuffs that are a subtle nod to the bird print. The bright red should remain the focus of your next evening look, accented with gold or white accessories such as a pair of mules or simple jewelry. Less overtly, fringe and weaving co-opt the aesthetic of bird nests to offer movement and texture to traditional silhouettes at IAMISIGO and Reform Studio. The Mini Afro Basket is crafted with plastex, Reform Studio's in-house textile made from recycled plastic bags and cotton threads, capitalizing on the basket bag trend while remaining sustainable. Pair it with IAMISIGO's Loop-Weave Side-Slit Dress for a tactile delight.
Rocks may seem like an unlikely source of inspiration outside of the stones and gems found in jewelry, but the texture and shapes of earth and rock formations offer new approaches to textures and patterns. IAMISIGO collaborated with Kenyan artist Brian Kivuti on the I AM MOUNTAIN Earrings, with camel bone carved in the shape of a mountain set against a gold-plated recycled silver. Stylish and ethically produced, they're in line with this season's statement earrings trend while being a conscious addition to your jewelry box. Burundi-based Margaux Wong instills Amazonian zero-waste values into their products, such as the Glorious Pochette, made from upcycled cow horns like many of its designs. The marble-like texture is further embellished with a hand-cut bronze motif that draws inspiration from the Burundi environment, creating an opulent carry-on from materials considered waste. It's ideal for evening looks and makes for a conversation-starting clutch during the day.
Vegetable motifs are a surprising yet welcome substitute for typical floral prints from South Africa's Viviers, creating an original cabbage leaf print with green, purple, red, blue, and beige shades. The vintage raw silk is rendered in a relaxed, boxy silhouette accented with a Mandarin collar offering a tailored edge to the multitude of colors. If you'd prefer a little structure, the shirt also features removable shoulder pads allowing for greater versatility. The range of hues allows for several styling options. You can opt to match any of the colors or the shirt or go with neutral tones when pairing with bottoms. Next, look to Andrea Iyamah's Sarina Cover-Up for more edible inspirations, a floor-sweeping robe with a zesty lemon motif. The robe's lightweight nature makes it a transitional piece that can be worn at the beach as a cover-up or a light coat when the weather begins to cool. Leaves also offer an expression of nature, with both designers looking to banana and eucalyptus leaves, respectively. At Viviers, find another relaxed shirt that can easily be dressed up or down thanks to the playful batik print with tailored elements. Andrea Iyamah continues to offer convertible swimwear in bold color and hand-painted Eucalyptus leaf pattern with the Tiaca Swimsuit's drawstring waist tie, adjustable shoulder straps, and high-rise, high-cut legs allowing for the piece to be adjusted to your needs
Animal skin may seem controversial when discussing sustainable fashion, but South African label OKAPI and Nigerian FemiHandbags have crafted leather handbags with ethically sourced materials. OKAPI plays with the idea of animal skin as armor, not just in naming their bag after Yemaja, the protector of women in African mythology, but with a Springbok horn closure that signifies protection. This top-handle bag's Blesbok leather and rounded shape is an elevated approach to the classic, black bag that you can integrate into your everyday looks. Perhaps you prefer a grander statement, then opt for the La Petite Ameena II, which gives the ladylike shape a bold color-block design. The shoulder strap can be removed for evening looks, providing a versatile day-to-night tiny purse. Finally, Zimbabwean brand Patrick Mavros pays homage to the fauna of the Sub-Sahara, drawing on the striking shell of the pangolin for earrings and a stacking cuff. The subtle jewelry is crafted from recycled sterling silver, giving texture to traditional silhouettes. These lovely finishing touches don't require much attention, making them easy to add to your collection while offering a distinctly African approach to minimalist jewelry.
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