Fashion Column: African Student Union Fashion Show

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Students celebrate African-inspired fashion. 

Angie Diaz, Maroon-News Staff

On Saturday, November 11, the African Student Union (ASU) annual fashion show took place in the Edge Cafe located in the Bryan Complex. The show provided the Colgate community with an opportunity to learn more about a variety of African-inspired styles by featuring the diverse work of multiple African designers. One designer was Kerra Hunter, Assistant Dean and Director of International Student Services, who presented a children’s line with vivid and rich colored fabrics from Queen Irie Designs. The energy was high as Colgate students and Hamilton children modeled Hunter’s designs, as well as those of the following designers.

Obioma Fashion by Emeka Anyadiegwu: Emeka Anyadiegwu was born and raised in New Jersey and Michigan, but his family is from West Nigeria. This background has inspired Anyadiegwu’s work: in 2016, he founded Obioma Fashion, a company that produces its clothes in Nigeria. Anyadiegwu’s father, who is the production manager of the business, lives in Nigeria so he gets the fabrics and manufactures the styles there. The clothes are then imported to the United States and shipped worldwide online. Anyadiegwu draws his inspiration from his ancestors and from vibrant African fabrics. He is also fascinated by the mixing of African culture with Western styles. Throughout the Obioma Fashion showcase in the ASU fashion show, this blending of African culture with Western styles was evident. There was a variety of hoodies, tops, joggers, long pleated skirts and dresses with bold colored prints that drew from African culture.

All Things Ankara by Nikki Billie Jean (Nicolette Orji): Nikki Billie Jean is a first generation Nigerian who lives in Maryland. She is the founder & editor-in-chief of “All Things Ankara,” an online blog that features ankara, a 100 percent cotton, printed wax fabric. This fabric is very versatile and can be used to create many accessories. Billie Jean’s online presence has enabled her to reach a broad audience and promote her growing brand. The notion that vibrant prints should not be associated with formal wear is an assumption Billie Jean’s brand successfully proved wrong. Billie Jean’s line in the ASU fashion show was made up of elegantly designed collared blouses, dresses, jumpsuits and suits with bold colorful prints. The striking interplay between bold colors and prints with formal wear is what made this line stand out. 

Kwetu Fashion Designs by Missy Temeke: Missy Temeke is the founder of Kwetu Fashion Designs. Born and raised in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania, Temeke draws inspiration from the different clothing styles and prints of East Africa. Temeke began her career as a model and then eventually moved on to accomplish her lifelong dream of being a fashion designer. Her goal is to inspire people from different countries to see and wear African clothing and trends. Temeke’s showcase in the ASU fashion show highlighted her unconventional but innovative design aesthetic. Temeke’s arrangement of intricately designed swimsuits, two-piece ensembles, dresses, masks and jewelry showcased a variety of different glamorous styles which ranged from day to night looks. All the featured jewelry in the showcase was handmade and inspired by traditional Maasai jewelry, a group of people from southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. 

In addition to a summary of the designers featured in the fashion show, an interview with the Vice President of the ASU as well as other students involved in putting on the event provides more insight into the significance of the event.

Vice President of ASU, senior Chinwendu Obi, spoke about what the event meant to her. 

“Normally when you say ‘Africa,’ people tend to think about just one Africa,” she said. “There are different countries in Africa with different traditions, styles of clothing, music and religions. Our goal was to bring a piece of that to Colgate. Being able to host this event where we have different people across campus, clubs and communities just coming together says a lot about where Colgate is heading in terms of pushing for diversity on campus.”

Senior Jonathan Burton said that the event allowed him to learn more about different African cultures. Senior Shy Parris echoed this idea. 

“This fashion show highlights a diversity of styles and that breaks frequent assumptions about African culture,” she said. 

Senior Tasmin Ali worked as one of the models in the fashion show. Like the other students involved, she felt the event was important.

“It’s an interesting way to showcase African culture and how beautiful it is. You don’t get to do that that much on Colgate’s campus. That’s what made me want to be a part of this event,” Ali said.

Contact Angie Diaz at [email protected]