Influences of Cultural Attire in Contemporary Fashion for Posterity of African Culture

  • Sharon K. Johnson University of Nairobi
  • Beatrice A. Koech University of Nairobi
Keywords: fashion designer, cultural heritage, Mustafa hassanali, Kemi kalikawe, mushanana, Kitenge


Clothes have been integral to us humans. Even in the pre-historic, our ancestors used to wrap their bodies either with tree leaves, barks, or animal skin. The invention of clothes had played a vital role in determining the behavior of humans. Since then, a lot has been changed, and the fabric/garment industry has undergone an unprecedented change. Now, numerous designs, patterns, and styles have come into being and people around the globe buy them depending on their sense of fashion- some may prefer stylish, cool looks while others adhere to comfort. Problem: Over the last few years¸ the demand for East African dresses has gone significantly high not only in the US but also in different parts of the world, the artists however feel that they are not supported enough not only by the government but also the lack of proper platforms for their designs to be celebrated. These designer dresses have an exceptional of celebrating tradition and culture while commemorating the heritage and beauty of the motherland. It’s more than just being a fashion statement. Objective: The main objective of this paper is to establish how fashion designers today have managed to bring culture into wear and created contemporary designs that have brought pride to the East African communities. Design: This researcher has used qualitative and quantitative methods as research engines but particularly a case study of fashion designers and their works. Setting: This research was carried out in east Africa to further understand some of its fabrics and their translation to contemporary society. Subjects: the subject of this study is the traditional attire alongside fashion designers who’ve transitioned it to contemporary design. Results: The research results revealed that designers and tailors don’t make these clothes simply for appearance’s sake; each color, symbol, and even shape of the clothing may have a very specific meaning or purpose. African clothing can also be a symbol of creativity, status, and allegiance to African tribal roots. Conclusion: It is, therefore, safe to conclude that fashion is a fundamental pillar in the society that can promote the cultural heritage of a society and that designers need to create platforms for themselves and make themselves seen. The designs created should make the world stop and watch the pride that is east African heritage.