African beauty: fashion and beauty trends out of Kenya

African beauty: fashion and beauty trends out of Kenya


Kenya is one of the most vibrant African countries and the trendsetter of the African fashion trends. Its distinctive ethnic ornaments have inspired Valentino and Louis Vuitton fashion houses. Kenyan top models Malaika Firth and Ajuma Nasenyana are the international catwalk stars. Celebrity, including Melania Trump, Naomi Campbell and Kate Middleton, admire the country's nature and culture. We will tell you about the most appealing fashion trends, which are gaining popularity around the world kicked off by Kenyan beauties.

1. Kitenge, a fabric featuring an African print

In recent years, African motifs have regularly appeared in the collections of Valentino, Maison Margiela, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Givenchy, and other fashion designers. Colorfully printed cotton fabrics have a generic name 'Ankara', while fabrics with single-side edging, specially made for sarong skirts, are called 'Kitenge'. Their distinctive characteristic is the intricate, colorful ornament and rich colors. The light blue shade easily coexists on the same square of cloth with orange and yellow – with blue. Geometric patterns are alternated with images of animals, birds and plants. Kenyan fabrics are used to sew clothes (and sell it online, for example, in the Ofuure store, which offers worldwide delivery), to make shoes and various accessories, from wallets to headbands.

2. Masai-style beaded bracelets and jewellery.

The native people of Masai, who live in the savanna in the south of the country, are symbolic to the Kenyan culture. Maasai’s ideas of beauty differ significantly from European ones, but this is what makes them interesting. The men of the tribe wear bright red clothes with characteristic checkered patterns. Women shave their heads and intentionally knock out the two lower front teeth. Both sexes favor all kinds of beaded jewelry to be worn on their arms and necks: massive bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. They are hand-made, and their design bears a secret message 'encoded' by beads of various colors. For example, the predominance of white color in a piece of jewelry means purity of thoughts, red stands for courage and strength, blue for energy, orange for hospitality, etc. A selection of online stores that feature Masai beaded jewelery can be found, for example, in JetsetBunny's blog.

3. Natural cosmetics based on herbal extracts

Organic cosmetics are today's global trend. With its tropical climate, Kenya is home to many plants that are widely used in modern cosmetology. For example, organic products by Cinnabar Green consist purely of natural ingredients: oils of macadamia, jojoba, baobab, hibiscus, avocado, papaya, calendula, geranium, wild chestnut, and other plants. In product lines of many brands include products based on the black tea extract. In Kenya, tea plantations are located in the highlands, far from civilization, tea cultivation involved no pesticides, and it is appreciated worldwide as a biologically pure product. Invigorating properties of Keyan tea are widely known, for example, Kenyan marathon runner and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge has made tea a part of his professional diet to improve his endurance. Kenyan tea is often used in cosmetology, among others, to make facial masks with a lifting effect. Such products help prevent wrinkles, even out the facial complexion, moisturize and nourish the skin.

4. Bags made of baobab bark

Handmade woven shopper bags are sold at Kenyan artisan shops in Nairobi, but you can also order them online. Manufacturing of every single bag takes two to three weeks. First, the bark is cut off by large triangles from the baobab trunk, then it is dried and taken apart into individual fibers to make threads. The resulting 'yarn' is dyed in different colors, from brown to charcoal gray, using natural dyes – berries, roots, ashes and others. Finally, tight bags are knitted with special knitting needles. Fashion magazine forecast that in the summer and autumn of 2019, bags made of natural wood - bamboo, rosewood and others – will be the hottest new trend. A roomy bag made of baobab bark fits perfectly into this trend.

5. Coloured turbans and headbands

You can easily create an African look with just one accessory – a bright painted scarf tied on the head in a turban style. Fashion experts include such headbands in the list of the main beauty trends of the upcoming summer. It is advisable to match your eye shadow or lipstick color to that of the scarf - thus you will ensure a complete look. By the way, Kenyan women also use multi-layer headbands to hide their hair from the burning sun. Those who are going to spend their summer vacation on the beach should make use of this trick. If you hide your hair entirely under a turban, it is worth accentuating with bold earrings or an ethnic-style choker. Various ways of tying turbans are described, for example, in the Kenyan fashion blog by Zumi.

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