Welcome to the Old World New presents: “Cultural Appreciation, Not Appropriation” Series, Installment 2! (See Installment 1 here)
Diversity is the spice of life. I love pulling influence from different cultures. The easy access to knowledge of different peoples’ heritage has helped shaped me to be who I am today. Therefore, practice love, not hate. Practice cultural appreciation, not cultural appropriation. Learn about and have respect for the cultures that you seek to emulate – you’ll be happy that you opened your mind to “a whole new world” (I hope you sang that in your Jasmine & Aladdin voice, because I did!).
“African,” “Wax,” “Native” prints… what does that even mean? Let’s learn a little about fabric print history. Before the times of the industrial revolution which made manufacturing products, namely fabrics and clothes, very easy – there were hand crafted fabrics and prints or woven designs. I love all types of prints, and as they have evolved very much throughout history, they leave a lot to draw inspiration from. When fabric making was a laborious task, fabrics and their prints had more meaning to the people that made them and who they made them for. For example, Navajo prints are imitated a lot in southwestern (U.S.) interior design and on “rugged” clothing items such as boots or backpacks. According to Wikipedia (fancy research, I know), Navajo prints were originally woven, and they played a role in the Navajo people’s understanding and belief about the creation of the world.
Since Africa is the largest continent in the world and is full of large countries, the prints and histories vary so much! Some popular prints with African origins and/or strong African influence have been integrated into modern style.
Kente cloth, which reminds me of cloths my family uses when celebrating Kwanzaa, and can be seen in Afro-centric graduation stoles. The colors of each cloth have special meanings; pink symbolizes the female essence of life, black symbolizes intensified spiritual energy, and yellow symbolizes wealth, fertility, beauty and more.
Style: African Burkina/Wax Print Dress
Luckily for this particular dress, someone saw it on a previous post and said it looks like Burkina or Ankara print, so I researched it and it does look very similar to those styles! I found this dress at a thrift store, and got it for 30% off by donating clothes that day, making the final price about $7. It seems to be home made and fits me just right!
Photos by Challie Rene
I’d like to end this post by encouraging you to support one of the many companies that benefit people from the culture that they emulate and from people who craft them by hand. Companies like fashionABLE help women in Africa develop crafts and personal skills while selling beautiful goods to people world wide. Alero Jasmine takes traditional African inspired prints to a new level with beautiful design created and often handmade by a British/Nigerian student. Support the companies of cultures we love to look like! And let us not forget, this look is thrifted. Give second hand clothes a chance, they can positively impact the way you dress!