Fashion, music, comedy and clothes you can’t get anywhere else will be on full display today at the East Madison Club between 4 and 8 pm. Tickets are $20.
The show, being put on by African n American Fits, will provide patrons with the chance to see world class African materials woven into both contemporary and classic American styles. African n American Fits serves as a cultural bridge between traditional African fashion and African American culture.
“Most of our materials are African but our designs are more modern, like American style or Hip Hop,” says Yankuba Jannah, the founder of African n American Fits. “We want to bring something casual that everyone can wear on a daily basis. We also cater to people who want dresses for weddings or prom.”
Jannah says that he hopes the atmosphere will be energetic and embracing of both diversity and African culture. Jannah, who calls himself a citizen of the world, says he loves bringing people together with his designs but notices many people have stereotypes of what life is like in Africa as well as who should be allowed to wear Afrocentric clothing.
“Most people don’t assume anything is made in Africa at all,” Jannah said. “But every one of the clothes we provide is material made in Africa. This is how beautiful our clothing is and how beautifully it can be incorporated on every level. We want to reach everyone with what we’re doing. People think that wearing African clothing is disrespectful or not their culture. But it is for everyone. Wearing something of my culture is beautiful.”
Even in the African-American community stereotypes abound about African culture. Some blacks view it as phony or even overbearing to embrace the cultural roots that exist from Africa. Many whites also view African life and culture as being what they would see in some Unicef commercial or some televangelist sponsor-a- child infomercial.
“The stereotype is that people in Africa are hungry or they don’t have food. People think that being from Africa you don’t have houses or whatever,” Jannah says.
But Jannah says everyone will feel included both at Saturday’s event as well as by the fashion they see on display. The positive energy and beauty of the atmosphere will be enough to dispel any false notions about products or culture from Africa.
“Our design has no limits, we’re doing everything,” Jannah says of what types of clothing will be displayed. “Ladies, kids, headwraps, jackets, blazers. Everything that people actually wear.”
Jannah will be joined by Gambian Liberator, who will perform live music during the show. Liberator, known for his 2015 hit single, “Go Down” is one of the rising stars in the international music scene.
Comedian Antoine McNeal from Detroit will also perform live stand up comedy during the fashion show. All of the performers and artists will be displaying the African n American Fits fashion brand.
2017 marks the first year of what Jannah hopes is an increasingly popular annnual show. He originally intended to do the fashion show online but said the outpouring of support he received made him realize he wanted to do a live show.
“We’ve mainly been doing it online,” Jannah says. “We go to things like the Black Business Expo. I’ve done a couple of school events talking about how Africa actually is rather than how it’s portrayed to be. But I feel like there’s a bridge between the African community and the African-American community here, so having this event will actually help. We’ll have a lot of diversity out there. We can talk about unity and not just pushing our brand. Regardless of you being from Africa or African American or white, this is for you. You are king or a queen no matter what.”