The Importance of Fashion Exposure

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Growing up, I was obsessed with Asian culture and colorful clothing, starting from Japanese Kimonos to Chinese Qipao, layered garments with inseparable decorative umbrellas. As I grew older, my interests grew with it, and for the love of God, I could not figure out why I was so invested in Chut and other Asian garments. And then… And then, it hit me!

Being a huge Marvel fan, I was beyond excited when Black Panther came out. Surprisingly, it opened my eyes as well. For years, growing up, I had been exposed to Asian culture through movies, animations, and high fashion runways; hence there was no surprise in the influence. But the moment I saw Ruth Carter’s bewitching costumes, I realized how we – as a society, have chosen to ignore and undermine the beauty of African fashion and traditions.

Black Panther (2018) Letitia Wright and Angela Basset in Carter’s designs inspired by African tribes

I have been into fashion for as long as I remember. I loved movies, but I loved looking at the costumes and their details even more. This is why I cannot remember the time we were properly introduced to African culture and clothing. And by African, I mean actual traditional garments and wears and not those African-American decoratives Hollywood has been selling us over the decades. I mean, don’t get me wrong, black power all the way, but I feel like all those years we have been robbed of those colorful, mesmerizing, and divine designs the continent has to offer. Therefore, it has inspired me, and somehow I felt obliged to the world to find more about African fashion toward traditions and modernized ways and show them off to people. I wanted African fashion and beauty to have more exposure.

Beyonce: Black is King

I have discovered quite a few remarkable African designers, photographers, and style movers along the journey. For whom, by the way, Waridi Shcrobsdorff with renowned Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni has dedicated a “Mtindo” book, where they share the vibrance and movement of Africa. I was delighted to find out what kind of relationship those designers had with mother earth and how they treated the environment. Most of the designers and other influencers I have encountered have an enormous appreciation of nature and create unceasing pieces. Not do they only go with the slow fashion to help the environment recover, but learning about them has shown me their spiritual state of being and its influence in their exceptional work. And for me, personally, I feel that is precisely why those garments and clothing touch your soul down to the very core. Because they give us our inner peace and harmony, and it reminds us who we really are and what we should strive in life for.

Photography of Carlota Buero

Tamar Petashvili