Looking for Africa? by pemora

Looking for Africa?
by pemora

Today's NY Times featured an article about the fashion world's recent embrace of all things 'African'.  Really, Africa is in style this winter?  Who knew?

My problem with the article is complicated.  On the one hand, I am always tired of the idea of marketing someone's culture (this season, Latin America! Next season, Hassidic Jews!).  Culture, and the markers we use to define culture, are not meant to be bought and sold under layers of taffeta.  It is what we use to find common ground, language and mannerisms with those in our community.  But on the other hand, fashion + style are major components of what we define as culture.  For example, part of Zapata's allure as a leader in the Mexican Revolution (and I am oversimplifying here for blog's sake) was his wardrobe and trademark mustache.  The man wore 3 piece suits with ammo belts over his shoulders and looked freaking dapper!  How could thousands of people not follow him?

I think my real conflict is that I do find myself looking for these "exotic" pieces whenever I'm out shopping.  My best friend is off to her native Mexico? Please get me a colorful bag.  My mother-in-law is in Ecuador? A poncho, please. Friends to Puerto Rico? I would like the requisite black faux-leather flip flops that say "Puerto Rico" (ok, this is a sad example.  But I do ask each and every time).  There is even a major graffiti painting in my dining room of an indigenous woman (indigenous to which country, no one knows. But she looks damn stunning).  I so want to believe that this is a problem of white Americans wanting to make money off of everyone else, but what happens when I am the one shelling out the cash to buy these pieces of culture?

By the way, if you really are on the hunt for awesome handmade clothing made from African prints, check out naKIMuli.  Love her clothes.


  1. aaawwww, thank u for the shout out.

    what's so funny is that today, less than an hr ago, a white man saw me + my friend talking outside in front of my house. he 1st complimented my front door window curtains (they r very colorful lol) and then he mentioned the ny times article u r talking about. thought that was interesting...lol

    but we all do it. i don't know if it is wrong if we r sincere about it + make efforts to be kind + get to know people for who they r + not just becuz their culture is "exotic" or the "in" thing to wear/do...i don't know, like u stated, it is a complicated matter...

  2. forgot 1 thing.

    the problem i had with the article is the slideshow. m.i.a in neon craziness does not constitute african style to me. along with the pic of the 1st guy in urban clothing. cuz he's black, that means his style is african? i mean the print background, maybe. but the pic as a whole is not african. smdh.

  3. That's really interesting. I'm going to go to the article and read it now.

    Thanks for putting me on your blog roll.


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