Known as Angelina Dashiki, Addis Ababa, Ya Mado or “Myriam Makeba” and spotted on celebrity like Beyonce, Wizkid, Chris Brown, or Fabregas the Dashiki is not only coming back, but taking over the world. From Paris to NY via Lagos, Johannesburg, and London… We can’t help, but seeing the fabric everywhere as T-shirts, dresses, skirts, and accessories…
From Danshiki to Dashiki
From his Hausa roots Dan Ciki means “underneath”. West African Yoruba borrowed the term Danshiki that became later on Dashiki. It is in 1968 the word entered the American English circa. Dashiki refers to a short sleeveless tunic worn by men. It is a loose-fitting tunic, with an ornate V-shaped collar, and tailored and embroidered neck and sleeve lines. The Dashiki that we know with the Kanga prints a bordered rectangle printed with symmetrical bold colorful designs, often with central motifs was worn as a wrapper by most african women. Kanga prints were first introduced in the early nineteen hundreds by Portuguese and Indian traders to East Africa. It’s in the 60’s that African fashion designers discovered contemporary Kanga, which is produced in Kenya and Tanzania.
A Fashion statement from the late 60’s
In 1964, after the passage of the Civil Right Act Afrocentric clothing gained popularity among American with African descent embracing their heritage. Associated with the « Black is Beautiful » and « Black Power » movement; bold The Dashiki is a symbol of black unity and pride. Featured in the movie “Uptight” and weekly TV show “Soul Train; it was not only worn by political activist such as Jessie Jackson or Fred Hampton, but also by athletes and entertainers like Jim Brown or Sammy Davis Jr. It became a fashion statement for Black Pride. Liking the vibrant color and the comfort of the garment the Dashiki gained even more popularity when the counterculture movement Hippie incorporated it in their wardrobe. Even after that many African-Americans still wore it during Kwaanza.
A Dashiki Winter
In December 2014, Congolese singer Fabregas released his hit video « Ya mado »,where him and his group also set the trend by all wearing Dashiki shirts now renamed « Ya mado ». Still end of 2014, Ron Bass an African-American stylist, who is also owner of the independent label Royal Kulture came out with « Dashiki Jersey Collection », which was a success. With Beyonce and Rihanna wearing his tops it must be the must have item of the year. Last year, the young designer in collaboration with Forever 21 released his West African inspired line nationwide.
I think it’s good to see Africans living outside the continent take ownership and claim their African identity, but also for the rest of the world to discover or rediscover this beautiful garment!