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Africa to the world: What makes locally produced content so unique to luxury from elsewhere?

Since the beginning of time, the African continent has been a source of wonder and natural wealth. The world turned to Africa for influence and attainment of things that today form part of our everyday lives – think your morning coffee order or that shea butter moisturiser you love.

Yet, for all its contributions, you could argue the continent has never truly received the same celebration as some of its Western counterparts. That’s, until now.

Over the past few years, a 21st century Pan-African Renaissance has come to the fore. The richness of African music, dance, fashion and indigenous cultures has exploded into global pop culture – and ‘Made in Africa’ has become a new tagline for luxury.

But what makes locally produced content so unique to luxury from elsewhere? For starters, you usually measure affluence by price. But in Africa, it’s cultivated through depth and sentiment. It’s the story you tell, a traditional artisanal technique, an indigenous textile, a celebration of your tribal identity – something you can’t replicate.

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time when this resurgence of African luxury began, but it may have started with a little phenomenon known as Wakanda, when the movie Black Panther put the concept of Afrofuturism at the forefront of global consciousness.

According to Dr John Jennings, professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California Riverside, Afrofuturism reimagines the past, and envisions what an idealistic Africa would look like, had we been able to live up to our full potential. It’s a reclamation of Black identity through art, culture and political resistance.

African designers, musicians, and creatives are reaching success of phenomenal heights. The world’s no longer just looking to us for inspiration to reinterpret in a watered-down way. Instead, we’re asserting ourselves into these spaces with authenticity – and being celebrated for it.

A case in point? The recent win of Nigerian rapper Burna Boy at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. He won the Best Global Album award for his 2020 album Twice as Tall – a story about his Pan-African crusades, and one in which he celebrates the Yoruba deity in his video and performances. It was the first time in history that a Nigerian solo artist had won a Grammy award.

Beyoncé has been a walking mannequin for the fashion label Tongoro. Founded in 2016 by Senegalese designer Sarah Diouf, the brand promotes traditional craftsmanship, African luxury and everyday glamour.

Read the full article in the September/October issue of Glamour SA. Click here to get your digital copy.

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