Africa Fashion Week London or AFWL has come a long way since its inception in 2011. This year’s event was held at the Olympia London on the 7th and 8th of August. It is another great example of how the African culture and lifestyle is influencing and taking roots in London as mentioned in my post August in Africa summer festival 15. AFWL is by a wide margin the largest catwalk event in Europe celebrating African styles and designs and has caught the attention of many even beyond Africa and Europe. The show has attracted over 300 hundred designers and more than 40, 000 visitors. I personally have little reservations about a few designers’ commitment to pushing the art from being a dream to truly becoming an avant-garde were by the framework for future African fashion is laid. Up to the point of typing this post, my research laid bare, for the lack of web presence on some of the designers and exhibitors. Living in a world where everything points towards digital, its surprising this minority have not tapped into this area to make themselves known.
Notwithstanding, collectively the runway shows for 2015 have been spectacular with many designers pushing the boundaries to widen the horizon of what is expected from an “African” themed fashion show. It is no longer the case where Ankara and Kente dominates the catwalk to represent the entire continent. For many years, designers have used these two fabric types to create what they saw as the embodiment of African fashion. To my delight, this is no longer the case and even for those who use Ankara and Kente have done so in such clever ways as to show a different dimension to the art of designing.
A good example is Mary Martin London. Mary Martin showcased some beautiful pieces to include a Cecil the Lion inspired dress. “When I saw the lion on TV I was deeply shocked” said Martin as she was interviewed by the BBC world service. Martin spent many nights working on the dress in time for the show. Other designers who showcased beautiful pieces on the catwalk for the 6:30 show on Saturday were:
Amanda May Needle point Soraya da Piedade Vanelse Sarah Arthman Kilumba Steve Mandy Nsoromma by Tribal Piece The organisers did a fantastic job to put this show together and i think it is going to get bigger and better in the coming years. I am already looking forward to AFWL16. As a men’s fashion and lifestyle blogger, i wish there were more men’s fashion designers out there. May be this is an area up and coming fashion enthusiasts need to look into. Browse through the photos and let me know what you think by leaving a comment
Colours! What is it about coloured garments (suits to be precise) that make most men panic? Is it the fact that we are never too sure how to pair colours when we choose to mix them, or is it the prospect of standing out in the crowd? Ok before I go any further, let me just qualify the word colour just in case some of you are wondering what I’m on about. My use of the term colour refers to anything outside of the neutral range such as black, white, grey, and sometimes brown and beige. These colours are neutral as they do not show or appear on the colour wheel. In essence they are “safe” hues. Fully saturated bold hues such as red or burgundy, green, aqua, pink, royal purple and more to the point, yellow are my idea of colours.
These colours are far less likely to be worn by men in comparison to the wardrobe staples such as navy, black, and grey. I mean don’t get me wrong these are appropriately named wardrobe staples for a good reason but you are not going to get very far if you truly want to make a statement where colour is concerned. Black, white, grey do a great job at pairing either with each other or anything on the colour wheel, but that’s about it.
Ok let me take a step back a little bit. The truth is wearing a full suit in any of the bold colours mentioned above is tricky and I get it. Imagine wrapping yourself in a badly cut coloured suit like royal purple on any given day. That will get you attention alright but for all the wrong reasons. Get it right and I guarantee you will turn heads, literally. I mean you only have to look back to Autumn/winter 2014 run way were many models donned the elegant burgundy. Burgundy was like an instant hit that continued it reign to date. Nothing better than a well-tailored burgundy suit for spring/summer 2015 season and I think Ozwald Boateng epitomizes this look perfectly. This have statement piece written all over it.
However, I understand that wearing a bold coloured suit is a bit too much for some especially those who are not used to colours. May be you want to break into this sphere of fashion and style gradually? Well I have good news for you. Your statement piece does not always have to be a full suit. I recon a well cut blazer can equally do the job with half the risk. To demonstrate this, I used my statement piece for spring/summer 2015 which is a yellow/mustard coloured blazer from suitsupply. I fell for this piece the minute I walked into the store. In fact, I went in for something completely different but left with a big smile on my face knowing that I have made a good purchase.
I do not need to wear matching yellow trouser with this piece as I recon I risk looking like a clown or worst a walking banana. The idea was to pair my yellow blazer (which is a warm colour) with a navy trouser (cool colour) to get perfectly balanced mix.
I had the option of wearing either a blue or white shirt but went with the neutral option which is white. I added a pair of brown tasselled loafers from Paul smith, and brown belt from banana republic to match the brown buttons on the blazer. To top it all off, I also added a light blue pocket square (cool colour) to break the yellow a little bit. I made sure that nothing competed with the yellow blazer in the form of patterns or other warm colours. It was all about the blazer.
Pairing can be a daunting task for some, but I recon learning a thing or two about colours will go a long way to help. What better way to learn about colour pairing than the colour wheel eh. So yeah, get acquainted with the colour wheel and see how you get on. Understanding the position of each colour (all twelve) is important and will determine the difficulty or ease of pairing, or whether they can be paired at all.
Here are three things to consider when looking at the colour wheel:
Similar colours – these are next to each other and are generally easy to coordinate
Complementary colours – Complementary colours are opposite each other on the wheel and are quite difficult to pair in comparison to similar colours. Try not to wear them in their full strength together as they may be too much for the eyes.
Contrasting colours – these have three colours between them on the wheel and can be troublesome for the eyes if used with their full strength. A good way to pair them is to use a darker tone with one of them just so they do not compete with each other.
So brighten up your wardrobe by investing in a bold statement blazer. Come back and share how you intend to pair it up. Feel free to add your comments and tips below as I am sure other readers would appreciate it.
When a good friend Cano told me about the exhibition and launch of a book called Return of the Rudeboy, curated by Dean Chalkley and Harris Elliott, I immediately sprang into action by first entering the dates into my diary, and then proceeded to doing a bit of online research on the origins of the concept. I was quite keen to check out the exhibits this time round as I missed their very first London exhibition at somerset house in 2014. I have heard and seen Dean and Harris’s body of works before and even follow their Instagram page but did not really know much about the history of Rudeboy and wanted to have a deeper understanding of its roots. What better way to do so than speaking to the two men who made it all possible, so off I went to the hospital club in Covent Garden.
‘Rudeboy’, no I am not referring to Rihanna’s 2010 hit song. Just in case this is your first time hearing about “Rudeboy” in this context let me try to give you a quick background to it Jamaican origins from the 1960s to its present day use here in England.
What is a Rudeboy and how is the style relevant today?
Rudeboy is said to be the first youth subculture of Jamaica after the country gained independence from Britain in the 60s. This subculture was necessitated by poor living conditions in the shanty towns of West Kingston were an underground economy grew and young people had to find ways to survive by any means necessary. The youth quickly became disenfranchised and violence ensued, even leading to curfews being put into place to curb such violence. With these struggles by marginalised citizens came the need to form informal and sometimes illegal groups and gangs to protect and fend for friends and families. The original Rudeboys was formed. The rudeboy wore sharp suit and pork pie hats to create their own personal style. Some say they did so to mimic the lifestyle of the upper class adding sunglasses to the look which they wore at all hours of the day. Living in the slums of West Kingston but wearing sharp suits and ties makes the rudeboy identifiable by their neighbours in the slums and suspicious to the upper class of Kingston. They literally stood out and with time, Ska music was associated with the Rudeboys.
Looking back in history, it may seem like Ska music and the Rudeboy subculture have enjoyed a close relationship from the start. However, Ska music came before the Rudeboy image was recognised as a subculture in the mid to late 60s.
Ska itself is a music genre with elements of mento, calypso, American Jazz and rhythm and blues and in the late 50s Jamaica and a predecessor of genres such as Rocksteady and Reggae.
Apart from dressing well and being huge fans of Ska music, the Rudeboy subculture helped spread the music to the working class which later became known as 2 Tone Ska upon it revival in England in the 70s. Subsequently, Rudi and Rudies (Rudeboy and Rudegirl) became terms used to describe fans of 2 Tone Ska as they enjoyed a strong presence within the genre.
British youths in the 70s, both black and white wore sharp suits, with slim ties, pork pie hats and shoes to match to identify with the movement’s Jamaican roots. As with its earlier days, the Rudeboy movement divided opinions and Ska artists of the 70s were no exceptions as some see the subculture as a menace whiles some celebrated it.
Fast forward to present day “Return of the Rudeboy”, fashion photographer Dean Chalkley and creative director Harris Elliott curated various pieces of sharply dress individuals who show the essence and spirit of a Rudie through what turned out to be successful exhibitions both in London and in Tokyo. Speaking to Dean himself on the last day of the London, Covent Garden exhibition, it became apparent that all the Rudies photographed had their unique styles through which their individual personalities shown but collectively embodied the essence of the Rudeboy look. Dean made sure to point out that none of the photographed Rudies were styled by himself or Harris.
As Harris Elliott himself put it, ‘Rudeboy image is not down to the clothes but the wearer of the clothes. The spirit and attitude the wearer channels through their personalities’. It is easy to see this as I admired the printed exhibits.
The looks of a Rudeboy back in the 60s is a far cry from what we identify today as Rudeboy in the inner cities of London. Rudeboys or Rudegirls these days are more likely to be wearing sportswear showing their bottoms than a well-tailored suit. In fact the youth that refer to each other as ‘Rude’ today deliberately wear hoodies as a way of differentiating themselves from the suit and tie, which is seen as conforming to the status quo.
The re-emergence of original Rudeboy dress code highlights how inner city subculture usually associated with disenfranchised youth has evolved over time.
From the dance moves of the Ska music, to the way Rudies wear their hats and ties means that the Rudeboy movement is not limited to what you wear but the attitude and spirit the wearer gives off defines one as a Rudie.
Just before leaving, I asked Dean when we should be expecting another exhibition. He simply smiled and said we shall see. So until then I recommend you get the book here.
As the weather gets warmer, time to reduce the hair on your head, trim the sideburns, and clip the beard for a polished and fresh look.
Getting a haircut by your favourite barber/stylist is just one aspect of grooming most men take for granted, especially if it is done regularly. We actually forget the value a haircut adds to our look until it goes wrong. For the most part, all we have to do is show up, sit in a chair and relax whiles the barber does all the work. But does this mean we cannot up our grooming game by learning a thing or two about our hair?
Haircuts are very essential and have the potential to add extra confidence and panache to a man’s look. Not only does the right haircut make you feel good, it has the ability of setting a man’s mood for at least a few days after it has been done. I know for a fact that whenever I step out of a barbershop and know that my cut is spot on, I feel like I am walking on air. Getting the right haircut is pretty much out of your hands but there are certain things you can do to enhance this repetitive but important aspect of your look. I have listed a few tips below to help build your hair grooming game.
Know your hair
Every man who intends to take an active role in enhancing their hair grooming game should know basic information about it, such as understanding your hairline, growth pattern, density, type, and texture, and what category do you find yourself on the colour scale. Some of this information does not only come handy when you visit a new barber, it also goes a long way in helping you choose the right hair products and the type of haircut that suits you.
Care for your hair
Caring for you hair should not only come in the form of applying hair products directly on it but also eating the right kinds of food to get that extra nourishment. Just as much as we eat certain food to enhance growth and nourishment for different parts of our anatomy, we need to do the same for our hair. Number one on my list of nutritious food for hair is wild Salmon and sardine or other oily fishes. Wild salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and also contains iron and vitamin B12 which are all good for hair growth and nourishment. Next is spinach. Spinach and other leafy vegetables contain Vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and other nutritious pedigrees to help nourish and moisturize you scalp which in turn support your hair. Poultry is a good option for protein as it is lean and has less saturated fat compared to beef and pork. Protein is essential for healthy growth of hair strands. Other great sources of hair nutrition are sweet potatoes, dairy products like low fat yoghurt, beans, nuts, and oysters.
The beauty of adding the above food products into your diet is that not only do they do wonders for your hair; they are also beneficial to your skin, nails, and eyes.
Stick to one stylist/Barber
Only change your barber when you absolutely need to. You chose your barber for a reason and that reason is because he/she understands your hair better than anyone else.
Fancy shopping for your perfect hair grooming kit, clothing and accessories whiles getting the right haircut for the season? Then head over to woodhouse clothing’s flagship store at Notting hill, London to take advantage of an exceptional experience. These guys certainly know what they are doing and will help you with style tips whiles you shop. For more details, visit their website here.