In order to launch our new joint campaign, African love, waf. and ALÁRA Lagos worked together to design, market, and distribute a fabric that pays homage to the traditions and histories that give our love and care on the continent their origin. The fabric's pattern combines historical symbols from Africa, including a silhouette of bamboo sticks, the scarifications of an Ethiopian, Mursi lady, northern Nigerians, and the cassava leaf, with hand-drawn ALÁRA and waf. logos.
African Love is a celebration that centres on the love shared by Africans, a love that was previously unacknowledged or unrecognised globally. According to Jomi Marcus-Bello, co-founder of waf., there is a connection between African love and the customs we follow:
In Nigeria, we have a uniform for love and togetherness, we call it ‘asoebi’ which directly translates to ‘family clothes’.
In Africa, fabric has always been a means of communication and solidarity to [express] things like love to a group of people. In our culture, the culture I understand and have been a part of, looking at the fabric someone is wearing can tell a lot about who they are and where they come from. So, the reasoning behind this is to continue this tradition and celebrate it as we imagine. It documents to the outside world that across our generation this practice happens on a regular basis. We’re simply highlighting the love between us as a [people].
African Love offers its platforms as places for engagement, thought, feeling, and sharing to thinkers/speakers whose opinions and experiences are in conversation with African traditions and their sociopolitical and cultural history.
Expanding on the specifics of the connection between attire, tradition, communication, and community, Reni Folawiyo of ALÁRA says:
From a community and tradition perspective, tapping into the asoebi narrative is about [sharing and receiving] a two-way gift. It’s the gift that you or someone is giving you to say you are part of this community and receiving your asoebi as a gift in one sense. Coming to the events or showing up is another gift. Showing up in those clothes is another gift, accepting your invitation to the community, saying, ‘I am part of it too. Not only am I part of it, in the communal sense, I’m also part of it in the individualistic sense, bringing my own flavour to it.’ I think with clothing, that’s what you want, you want to feel a part of something.
Fabrics and clothing have served as platforms for self-expression, celebration, and unification throughout history, continuing the custom of turning to one another and oneself for love and support. Together with the fabric and clothing, an event and podcast series are planned for April and September, respectively, to fulfill the brands' shared ambition to convey stories. The campaign seeks to create a space for audiences to experience African talent and creativity by selecting designers from four regions of the continent to use the fabric and feature in the podcast series. The campaign is driven by a creative impulse to reimagine the aesthetics and feel of love and its future possibilities.
African Love fabric is now available at: Click here
Each episode of the African Love podcast will focus on a different designer who will explore African Love with a loved one from their unique perspective.
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Love, waf. & ALÁRA
Photography: Stephen Tayo