Africa has influenced western fashion for as long as it has existed. Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garcons and many others have been inspired by the continent’s history, people and culture.
A multitude of African traditions have been used as a rich source of inspiration, punctuated by some particularly memorable misappropriations, from Christian Dior and Thierry Mugler to Louis Vuitton. Producers worldwide have capitalised on African symbolism to sell everything from cars to fashion. The difference now is the current outpouring of creative talents isn’t from the big western brands “inspired” by Africa, but instead from African designers making inroads into the western arts scene.