THE LOVE OF KITENGE
Dries Van Noten for Mr. Porter Men's Spring Summer 2021
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Once a week we take you behind the scenes to the things, people and places that inspire us. While in Africa I fell in love with the unique hand made fabric called Kitenge.
Kitenge or chitenge (pl. vitenge) is an East Africafabric similar to sarong, often worn by women and wrapped around the chest or waist, over the head as a headscarf, or as a baby sling. Kitenges are colourful pieces of fabric. In the Coastal area of Kenya, and in Tanzania, Kitenges often have Swahili sayings written on them.
Michou (moi) Wearing a Babatunde Hat Bought in Lamu from SandyLamu
Kitenges are similar to kangas and kikoy, but are of a thicker cloth and have an edging on only a long side. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo are some of the African countries where kitenge is worn. In Malawi, Namibia and Zambia, kitenge is known as Chitenge.
They are sometimes worn by men around the waist in hot weather. In some countries like Malawi, Chitenges never used to be worn by men until recently when the president encouraged civil servants to buy Malawian products by wearing Chitenge on Fridays.
Dries Van Noten for Mr. Porter Spring Summer 2021
Kitenges (plural vitenge in Swahili; zitenge in Tonga) serve as an inexpensive, informal piece of clothing that is often decorated with a huge variety of colors, patterns and even political slogans.
Me wearing a Kitenge Suit from fabric I bought while in Africa which I took to Hong Kong and copied my GrandFather's Dior Tuxedo
The printing on the cloth is done by a traditional batik technique. These are known as wax prints and the design is equally as bright and detailed on the obverse side of the fabric. These days Wax prints are commercially made and are almost completely roller printed.
Fabric we made into Dinner Napkins
Fancy prints are roller printed with the designs being less colorful or detailed on the obverse side. Many of the designs have a meaning. A large variety of religious and political designs are found as well as traditional tribal patterns. The cloth is used as material for dresses, blouses and pants as well.
The "woke" crowd could say this is "culture appropriation" by us donning the ethno-specific garb we would argue as two men who love fashion for us its CULTURE APPRECIATION!
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Have A Great Weekend,