“Check out my photos from this summer’s African Street Style Festival. A unique, open, street-based platform to highlight and celebrate the influence of African creativity in London”
The African Street Style Festival started in 2013 as a series of events fronted by designer and style boutique owner Samson Soboye and further facilitated by Simplicious and the Urban Enterprise Network. The festival’s growth has been a catalyst in influencing the African aesthetic within mainstream style in London. The vision for the African Street Style Festival is simple: Provide a unique, open, street-based platform to highlight and celebrate the influence of African creativity in London.
I arrived at the event at around 4pm when the early evening was warm as the sun was still out. There was a laid back and playful feeling in the air as I watched the vibrant mix of sartorially styled and deliberately rugged Afropeans pound the pavement of Calvert Street, Shoreditch.
I remember saying to my friend Ruth as we parked our butts on the curb watching the live performance from Yussef Kamaal, and saying “when I have children, I want them to come to events like this all the time. Really be immersed in everything that celebrates the richness of our culture”. My friend turned to me and replied “They (the imaginary kids in question) probably won’t be interested. The times are different now. Because we didn’t have these events growing up, we want them now. Our kids probably won’t be bothered, because cultural expression won’t be a novelty. It’ll be an expectation and standard in the digital age”. A part of me (sadly knew she was right).
Overall, I really enjoyed watching, welcoming and buying from emerging and established artists and experience their talents through photography, public and visual art, music, fashion, film, and live performance. I was reminded of a quote from blogger Terence Sambo, aka One Nigerian Boy who said
“The [fashion] industry does a good job of representing African elements and culture but not necessarily African designers”
And this is what I love about the African Street Style Festival, it’s a platform for African artists, not just African art. Whenever most foreign media are writing about ‘African fashion’ they rarely cite any African designer, it’s mostly foreign big names. If this continues then there’s no gain for African fashion; and this is something we need to do more for ourselves.