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Africa is one of those places that are still well known for their various tribes that are present in the continent. Just like India, Africa has also become an inspiration for designers to come up with new designs, styles and prints that symbolize these tribes.

According to history, the early African clothing was pieced together from art, oral histories and traditions that are still practiced by the present day tribal members. Men usually didn’t wear any clothing and instead chose to decorate their bodies with paints or scars. When they did wear, it mostly consisted of animal skins and bark clothes.

The Zulu Tribe, The Wodaabe Tribe, The Teke Tribe , The Burundi Tribe(Photo Credits: http://goo.gl/P1lGgU , http://goo.gl/P2GG7G , http://goo.gl/K919QM , http://goo.gl/BT5oIe)

Women on the other hand, are dressed according to their marital status. Women wear clothes made out of beads if they were unmarried to reveal their status, while the married women cover themselves completely.

The Masai Tribe , The Venda Tribe , The Zulu Tribe(Photo Credits:http://goo.gl/7BIfY1 , http://goo.gl/xodmbh , http://goo.gl/bu9vuB )

The animal skin and bark cloth was worn in different way by every tribe. While some draped it, others stitched it on the sides. After the weaving techniques were developed, Raffin, the fiber of a palm plant, and cotton became the most commonly used materials.

There are various designers who have used the African tribes as their inspiration for various collections. Stella Jean being one of them has many collections that have been based on the tribal theme, each collection with their own unique silhouettes and drapes that describe the eccentric designer perfectly.

Stella Jean 2013(Photo Credits: Stella Jean 2013- http://goo.gl/rlpqTD )

Donna Karen presented her interpretation of the tribal print with clean cut beige and black tones that depict the subtle side of tribal prints used in Africa, while Mara Hoffman and Jenny Kee present their style in an explosion of colors combined with minimalist and extravagant usage of accessories respectively.

Jenny Kee, Mara Hoffman , Donna Karen(Photo Credits: http://goo.gl/SU935v , http://goo.gl/rfNIrP, http://goo.gl/5wPlIu)

To find inspiration, designers have been exploring the ends of the Earth and beyond. They keep exploring continents to discover new cultures and traditions that were unknown off previously, to provide us with something new and exciting every fashion season.


Supriya Ghurye is the founder and owner of Fuel4Fashion, the first virtual design studio that caters to new and upcoming fashion design labels with a diverse portfolio of design services. She is a member of the Cherie Blair Foundation’s Women Entrepreneurship Program and has over a decade of fashion industry experience with international labels and start-ups.


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