Afrocentric style is the combination of traditional African pieces or fabrics with western pieces in the same ensemble to create a universally accepted trend with which Africans in diaspora and the world in general identifies with African culture and heritage.
In 1962, Kwame Brathwaite and the African Jazz-Art Society and Studios in Harlem presented a fashion and cultural show that featured the Grandassa Models. The show became an annual event. The purpose was to explore the idea that “black is beautiful.” It did so by using dark-skinned models with kinky hair wearing clothes that used African fabrics cut in shapes derivative of African dress. The impetus for the popularity of Afrocentric fashion in America arose from this event.
The Grandassa Models explored the possibilities of kente, mud cloth, batik, tie-dye, and indigo cloths, and numerous possibilities of wrapping cloth, as opposed to cut-and-sewn apparel. Subsequently, such entertainers as Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, the Voices of East Harlem, and Stevie Wonder on occasion wore part or full Afrocentric dress. In America, the Caribbean, and Britain, Afrocentric fashion was most popular during the 1960s and 1970s. Turbans, dashikis, large hooped earrings, and cowrie shell jewelry became the most popular Afrocentric fashion items.
Wearers of Afrocentric dress distinguish themselves and celebrate “Africanness” within the context of the West. Adoption of Afrocentric clothing is a way of casting aside the deep psychological rift of topographical past and modern present that the psychiatrist Frantz Fanon writes of in Black Skin, White Masks (1967). Afrocentric dress is also present in black music cultures of the Caribbean, United States, and the United Kingdom. In the early 2000s B-boys and girls, Flyboys and girls, Dancehall Kings and Queens, Daisy Agers, Rastafarians, neo-Panthers, Funki Dreds, and Junglist all include Afro-centicity in their fashion choices. Afrocentric fashion features combinations of commonplace apparel items that represent dissonance with selected preeminent pieces from Africa’s primordial past and its present.
This is the origin of Afrocentric style as we have it today, only modified to suit trends as time goes by and trends and seasons change.
Photography for this editorial was done my @oritse_mxvo & oak studios
Creative Direction & Styling @kingdukee & @dibiavalentinooe
Models: @victorydaniels @manswavyy @jayy.onipede @yanmite @dharmiegrim
What would you love to see in terms of the evolution of Afrocentric Style?
More images after the cut