The Big Problem With Calling African Fashion ‘Tribal’

“Design is my tool for telling stories about my home.”

While Rwandan designer Matthew Rugamba doesn’t believe African textilesshould be limited to African designers and brands, it does irritate him, he said, when designers draw inspiration from different African cultures, using African textiles and then employing phrases like “tribal” to describe them. “Some of the patterns and colors have great significance in different African cultures, so it is condescending to reduce some of these designs to a single phrase,” he told HuffPost.

His objective: “Capture that African style and elegance that you could spot from a mile away.”

The 25-year-old launched House of Tayo, a bespoke label specializing in unisex neck ties, bow ties and snoods that are made in Rugamba’s native country of Rwanda. The label fuses the bold and vibrant African prints of the past with modern tailoring for a sophisticated yet edgy aesthetic.

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