June 30, 2020
This year almost everything else may be cancelled, but with restrictions easing up and the sun shining bright, summer is still going strong. From the new-age suit set, to elevated bohemian craftsmanship, here are the trends to keep on your radar for when you’re ready to go outside again. Shop them here.
Photo: Studio 189
The New Suit
The new suit is a study of contrasting proportions, color, and captivating patterns. Think matching sets in both lightweight and heavier materials, and new details such as adjustable panels on blazers offered in less than traditional hues and patterns. Take a cue from Emmy Kasbit’s clean cuts in a variety of candy pop brights—his lavender set is an Industrie Africa editor favorite. The designer’s signature use of Akwete textile (the hand-woven material originating in Nigeria, intricately crafted by mixing raffia, cotton and sisal-hemp) often take center stage in his menswear-inspired separates. Ghanaian American label Studio 189 takes a more versatile approach to the suit set, teaming sleek tailoring and cigarette cuts with hand-loomed cottons to transition you from week to weekend. For a WFH alternative, look to Mozambican designer Taibo Bacar’s monochromatic loungewear ensembles.
Photo: Taibo Bacar
A statement print is a spirited way to infuse life into a tired ensemble, with its African counterpart —appearing in an array of cultural nuances—often pregnant with a plethora of untold stories. Whether you favour a sensory separate or opt for head-to-toe in a fearless clash, this summer is about optimism, and will dare you to brave prints and patterns that are busier and bolder than ever. We love Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo’s luxurious, layer-friendly take on West African Ankara (this SS’20 features a cameo from one of the season’s hottest hues: neon), or buttery-soft bombers from Congolese-American brand Kahindo. And, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try Orange Culture’s 70s inspired two-piece in a diaphanous crinkled silk.
Photo: Kiko Romeo
The Artful One Piece
Amidst shifting work ideals in the current global climate, look no further than the utilitarian one-piece. Stylish yet heavy-duty, boiler suits and jumpsuits have made a fashion-forward comeback this season in a range of flattering silhouettes and details. For Nairobi-based label Kiko Romeo, this staple has popularly starred in many a collection, each uniquely styled (think coconut buttons), hand-painted, or dyed in collaboration with local Kenyan artists. From mix-and-match batik treatments in unisex silhouettes, to a cloudlike hand-dyed number cinched at the waist, ease and versatility remain the appeal for this one-stop garment that is equal parts form and function.
Photo: Doreen Mashika
The Off Duty Dress
Undoubtedly the easiest way to nail seasonal style, the summer dress is the versatile staple offering effortless ease. These breezy must-haves are seamlessly adjustable to suit the wearer, and come in a variety of lengths, shapes, hues, and fabrics. Think upgraded florals, graphic prints, and billowing 80s-era sleeves. Consider Senegalese brand Diarrablu’s popular maxi dress, a multi-tasking wrap silhouette that is both comfortable and elegant. Made consciously from cupro, a sustainable fabric derived from cotton waste, this lightweight number breathes like cotton but feels like silk—perfect for a chic poolside sunset For a more youthful approach, try Tongoro’s all-over print dresses in voluminous silhouettes, 100% made in Senegal, or embrace Zanzibari designer Doreen Mashika’s playful botanical kanga dresses in flouncy shapes to imbue your next island getaway with pizzazz.
Moving beyond prairie dresses and crochet fringe, today’s bohemian embraces its elevated counterpart, taking on a significantly more worldly approach via a focus on artisanal embellishment and conscious craftsmanship. In the region, these details are organically derived from a designers’ heritage and values: an artful textile often has a rich backstory, or a tactile fringe may be the chosen result of a hand-loomed woven. Turn this trend on its head by investing in statement-making pieces that stand the test of time. We love NKWO’s Dakala cloth jackets, crafted from upcycled denim and finished with hand-embellishment, or any piece from Malian designer Awa Meité, whose new fashion and homeware range are influenced by local textiles such as mudcloth.