Inspired by Africa: Top British Designers
With the Great British summer a few weeks away, the high street should be looking East for its inspiration.
Though you wouldn’t believe it by looking out of the window, summer is apparently around the corner. With an increasing need to ditch the tights and long sleeve shirts, and last year’s Aztec print craze finally leaving the high street, summer 2k14 needs new inspiration, and we think that African prints are en route to a high street near you. Scrap that, they’re already here, with Topshop’s tropical themed dresses and Zara’s Ankara print tops. We’ve gone grassroots and found a few designers who have picked up on a style rich with heritage and fused it with a look that’s intrinsically very British. Don’t say we didn’t tell you.
Born in 2010 and named after a war-ravaged part of Sierra Leone, Kenema is the baby of Tamu Thomas, who set out to start a company that would “defy the myth that African fashion is only for people of the African Diaspora”. Up until recently Kenema focused on fashion for women, but are currently selling a unisex line, ‘Interlude’, that features bomber jackets and wonderfully designed trousers and shirts. Sartorially elegant, Kenema have collaborated with London based band Benin City to style one of their music videos, and Thomas has taken some of her designs to the States, exhibiting at the Smithsonian gallery in Washington DC.
Look: Eye catchingly elegant
The Feather Tree
Started by best friends Lissa and Bo, The Feather Tree create incredible hand made clothing, jewelry and feathers that blend street style with African prints and cuts. With fabric sourced and crafted in Kenya, The Feather Tree incorporates the work of local artists in their products, working alongside local Kenyans to create shell suits, two piece skirt and crop tops and sweatshirts that all carry a distinctive look to them. Watch this space for more beautiful output from the Feather Tree ladies.
Look: Festival and carnival essential
A blend of Retro And Modern African Style (see what they did there), Randmas is a print company rather than a straight up clothing line, claiming to be “Designed for the universal print collector”. Randmas’ prints are sassy and sleek, though pack punches with their bold, 60s inspired designs. They are also the purveyors of incredible scarves, put out under the name ‘Bila Beela’, designs that “visually narrate stories of bravery, ambitious journeys and signature style”.
Check out this gallery of some choice cuts from Kenema, The Feather Tree and Randmas. We’ve also included some top picks from the high street, too.
By Tamara Roper