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An ongoing craze that doesn’t show signs of stopping is ethnic or tribal fashion. As South African’s we have good reason to celebrate this fashion trend, as we have so many rich, colourful cultures in our diverse country. We needn’t look elsewhere for inspiration as it is all around us. Time for us to wear the crown.

Now is the time for South Africans to be proud of our heritage, and the influence various cultural groups have had on making this wonderful country what it is, a land full of colour and vibrancy.

The Shweshwe print is one that comes to mind when thinking of traditional African prints. It originated as far back as 1652, when the seaport in the Cape of Good Hope was established.

The indigo cotton cloth originated from India and Holland. Many of the Khoi-San, Voortrekkers, slaves and soldiers were seen wearing this cloth,that was later dyed using plants. A German chemist then developed a synthetic indigo cotton, and in the 18th century it was manufactured and dyed in Czeckoslovakia and Hungary. The cloth then entered South Africa.

The most popular brand name was known “Three Cats” Da Gama Textiles eventually bought the rights to own and print the brand in 1992, and are still printing the original “German print” or “Shweshwe” in the Eastern Cape. Local designers celebrate the various cultural influences of our people by combining contemporary design with ethnic elements.

A few African designers have had their clothing range snapped up by the likes of Top Shop and have been seen on celebrities like Sienna Miller.

Ethnic inspiration is limitless. Colourful designs are fun to wear and very expressive too.  Wearing multicultural fashion allows us to have fun experimenting with fabrics and styles from outside our own culture. So how do you make this ethnic trend work for you? Well, it’s simple; a blend of authentically rich ethnic colours and styles can turn an ordinary outfit into a tribal tribute.

Brighten up basics with ethnic inspired accessories from bold coloured beaded necklaces, to bracelets with an African edge.

A beautiful but simple clutch bag, or a pair of ballet pumps made in traditional African fabric can give you that little bit of a playful native feel.

Combining bold African inspired prints with simple contemporary pieces of clothing is the way to getting this trend right.   

The secret is not to do too much of it all at once.  The sophistication of simplicity is the finest way to ensure that you look sharp with a little ethnic inspiration.

Have fun and don’t be afraid to try new things.

“Be the best you!”

Your friend in fashion

Tracey xx

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