It would be easy to dismiss South African label African Style Story based on it’s name alone, which on the surface suggests an outsider trying to ‘engage’ Africa through the medium of fashion. We at the Other Style are particularly skeptical of brands and labels that have ‘Africa’ in their name, as it inaccurately homogenizes Africa as one small country and disregards its individual countries and the complexities of the 2000+ distinct tribes and cultures it is home to. But we decided to suspend our preconceptions and approach the label’s Spring 16 collection debuted at the 2016 South Africa Fashion Week based on it’s merit alone.
African Style Story was created to empower women with unique clothing and fashion accessories, so how well does their new collection fare against this pledge? The new collection features a lot of summer staples; The African Style Story woman this season is a global traveller, drawing inspiration from cultures around the world and reflects them through kaftans with contrast hems, Grecian style dresses, maxi dresses, gypsy inspired gathered blouses. The collection is chock full with floral accents, sometimes they are subtle, appliqued petals on a yellow wrap dress or piping on a kaftan, other times they are overbearing sorbet chiffon print dresses with vibrant complex florals in stark relief. An African Style Story is at it’s best when it is subtlest, it’s least thematic clothes it’s finest.
However, none of the label’s offerings is particularly African. Neither the prints or the silhouettes or the ideas behind them. If the label’s name was obscured and this collection wasn’t shown in South Africa with black models, it would be virtually impossible to discern it is African, confirming our earlier fears. It is disappointing, highly.
In the iconic words of Miranda Priestley ‘Florals for Spring? Ground breaking.’
Photo Credit: safashionweek.co.za