Styles and Culture in African Clothing

The clothing styles of the vast continent of Africa, with its different cultures, reflect the people, the place, the status, and the religions of these diverse peoples. Below is a look at several types of cloth which are commonly used, as well as the cultural and regional influences of the various regions of Africa.

Mud Cloth: This beautiful cloth originated in Mali and at one time was worn by hunters of that region. Nowadays, it is used for a large variety of African clothes. The cloth is made from hand-woven cotton and carved bamboo is used to apply mud to the cloth to create designs on it. The mud is taken from the river banks. After it is used to decorate the cloth, it is allowed to dry to achieve richer color. The process is repeated until the design is complete. The most popular colors are purple, white, beige, yellow and rust.

Korhogo Cloth:Made by the Sunofo people on the Ivory Coast, this type of cloth is designed by using mud to paint the cloth in various geometric designs. The mud is typically black, brown or rust and it is taken from various parts of western Africa. The cloth is used for clothes, as well as pillows and home furnishings.

Ewe Cloth: Similar to the Kente cloth, this type of material originates in the southeastern area of Ghana. Usually made of silk or rayon, the ewe cloth is frequently worn by those of a high status. The cloth bears symbols that represent knowledge, ethics and morals which are supposed to be used in everyday life. Other ewe cloth designs are more humble and simple in texture and design, but they are still quite beautiful.

African Tie-Dye: This style of cloth is very popular in Senegal, Gambia and Yoruba. The colors are modern yet traditional. There are various methods used to tie-dye. Whatever the method, though, the African tie-dye is a prominent feature in African clothing.

The style and culture of African clothes can be worn and displayed in any place or time and make a distinctive statement about the person who chooses to wear them. Making people aware of the rich history and culture behind the clothes adds even more depth to one’s choices in these styles.