Recently published was a fashion story called “Out of Africa,” about a supposed trend among big-name designers who are drawing inspiration from “African” fashion.
Besides the obvious, and usual, stereotyping of Africa as one monolithic place that doesn’t possess a myriad of fashion traditions from South Africa to Nigeria to Morocco, the references were just . . . off.
The pants in the photo above are wicked, but the description:
“The colonial world has also been mined for inspiration. For Ralph Lauren, the colonial looks fell somewhere between India and Africa, with low-crotch pants- those in between sarouel and jodhpur styles that are so a la mode this summer.”
The colonial world? Props to the writer for at least making decades of brutal colonization sound charming. In another description, the writer raves over the “tribal fabrics” of another designer. In another, she calls “African” style a “drumbeat.”
While it is always welcome to read about contemporary African culture, it seems harder and harder to not see those stories reduced to one generalization after another.
Read this brilliant critique of the article here.
And for any writer or person interested in Africa, this article about how NOT to write about Africa is priceless.
Photo via The New York Times