1. März 2013

the difference between Aztec print and African print

Tribal Fashion: Aztec vs. 

                       African Tribal

The colours are bold, the prints are elaborate and the attention to detail is flawless.

I’m a huge fan of the tribal trend: tribal leggings, tribal headbands, tribal jewelry, tribal straws even. Put a skwigly shape on something orange & black and I’ll buy it!

Often I see a collection of Aztec and African looking garments all classified as tribal and it makes go woes! Do the designers and manufacturers not know that there is a distinct difference between African tribal designs and the Aztec looking tribal that has become “mainstream” so to speak.

                                                Aztec Tribal Print vs. African Tribal Print

Afrocentric prints are tribal prints that come in a contemporary style. The line placement, thickness and structure is more prominent on the Aztec designs, while the African designs focus more on the overall flow and vision of the garment. Aztec designs are often surrounded by muddy looking colour palettes, while African designs tend to be more vibrant in colour. African designs also tend to be based on stories and/or represent a symbol of some sort.

Traditional African Tribal Designs vs. Modern Mainstream African Tribal Designs

It must be noted that there is a difference between traditional African clothing and the ‘mainstream’ African designs we are witnessing today.

Traditional African designs are widely worn in West Africa and were adapted from traditional Indonesian batik. These days West African prints have evolved beyond the abstract and patterns often depict important current events, like world cup games or presidential victories.

Designers wanting to feel the African Sun within them have also began utilising the patterns in their designs.

Gwen Stefani:with her a ‘African’ dress.

Traditional African wear is also a sign of wealth and status for many African women and men. The more expensive the fabric and elaborate the design, the more wealth the wearer is supposed to possess.

All we would have to do is look at any day in Parliament and we would know who the high rollers are:

Adelaide Frances Tambo is not messing around in her gold number! Seen here with South African designer Gavin Rajah at the opening of Parliament.

Modern day mainstream designs are referred to tribal designs as a collective, rather than African tribal, Aztec tribal and Red Indian tribal (which is where these designs are essentially drawn from).

Magazines, stores and designers tend to steer away from using the words African tribal, as they tend to evoke images of naked bushmen with loin cloths covering their gogos and pippies. Local and international designers have come to embrace the African tribal trend and have even gone as far as to incorporate it into modern day trends.

The July issue of Elle South Africa had the most stunning African tribal pieces on showcase in their feature on the opening of Jozi store Loin Cloth & Ashes, while Lalesso shined at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Cape Town with their African tribal pieces:

Loin Cloth and Ashes store in Jozi

Lalesso SS13 – SA Fashion Week

Lalesso SS13 – SA Fashion Week

If you want to feel like an African Child and rock the African tribal but don’t want to look like an African explosion, try these simple tips:

1. Try piecing the tribal item with a plain shirt or jacket for that POP effect.

2. Mix and match assymetrical prints with your tribal.     

3. Opt for one POW tribal item such as a scarf, kimono or bold tribal accessories to add that extra Africanness to your outfit.

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