Today’s West African fashions are evolving into a modern “streetwear” style that appeals to more young people, according to the organiser of a major cultural event. Speaking at the 10th annual Taste of Africa festival at George Washington University, Tomi Sodimu praised the modern designers who are transforming the fashion industry.

The event at George Washing University, organised by the GW African Student Association, was aimed at putting authentic African fashion, food and culture under the spotlight. Ms Sodimu, ASA president, spoke of the importance of the event and how it gave young people the opportunity to showcase what it meant to be African.

Contemporary fashions

The fashion show was a colourful mix of traditional fabrics fashioned into contemporary designs, with three fashion brands unveiling their latest collections on the catwalk, including designer Zinhle Essamuah’s “Baby Black” range and two Maryland-based designers, Qvings and The Pink Outlet.

This year’s fashion show was bigger than ever before, with more models, while the clothing had a more casual style. Ms Sodimu said the aim of the show had been to showcase the more modern, “streetwear” designs that were evolving on the African fashion scene.

She explained the idea was that African fashion was “multi-dimensional”, with the designs expressing its evolution beyond the traditional.

African pride

The event also featured a video presentation called “Africa into the Future”, highlighting the continuing developments within the continent in women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship and fashion. The keynote speaker, actress, poet, singer and songwriter, Anna Mwalagho spoke of her pride in being African and embracing her culture.

Ms Sodimu said she had planned this year’s festival to be more extravagant and praised the speaker, hailing her as an “incredible woman” and an amazing addition to the event.

Cultural elements from all the regions of Africa were incorporated into “Taste of Africa” – bringing together people from all regions and all walks of life. In particular, West Africa was highlighted, as a large number of ASA members came from the region. The festival was a celebration of both culture and diversity in the African community.

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