Der Modeboom in Westafrika: Produktion, Ästhetik und Bedeutung
Baessler-Archiv 54.2006:51-80
Keywords: fashion, textiles, roles of fashion

The fashion boom in West Africa: production, aesthetics, and meaning
##African fashion has only recently been discovered as a serious topic for social scientists researching in Africa. Although African textiles have long been studied for their aesthetic and symbolic values and the processes involved in their production, it wasn"t until the latter half of the 1990s that interest and research began to focus on the social and political dimension of costume and the conceptualisation of fashion as a kind of constructive social behaviour. This article will take a closer look at the historical development of female fashion in West Africa since the 1980s, when an economic crisis stimulated a real fashion boom which produced a flourishing of new looks, drawn from the interaction of a range of influences both traditional and modern, indigenous and global. The focus of this analysis concentrates on the different forms of expression of this fashion explosion: its specific aesthetic structure, its social role and historical and cultural origins, in the urban context of modern African cities. The main argument put forward refers to the creative potential of dress, exploited by African women to deal with the problems of colonial legacy and the construction of a socio-cultural identity in the era of globalization. The clothing of the body became a significant medium through which women, using material and symbolic signs, could articulate their understanding of African modernity.##