March 10, 2023

The Potential of Fashion In Afrobeats' Rise

How Style Can Propel An Artist's Career.

Samuel Kitcher Junior

With afrobeats continuing to take center stage globally, music lovers and fashion enthusiasts have questioned how the genre’s artists can make their distinctive fashion style correlate with their style of music. Fela Kuti the pioneer of Afrobeat - which has been reshaped into afrobeats - projected African culture in both his music and fashion. The legend portrayed his outlook through his now iconic fashion sense. Fast forward to recent times and artists such as Tiwa Savage, Rema, Burna Boy, Tems, Wizkid, Davido and Asake continue to win the hearts of fans across the world primarily through their art. 

With their widespread success, the question ‘How can they showcase African fashion’ is one that keeps popping up. From there more arise… do these afrobeats stars have a defined fashion-style at all? Are their fashion-styles loud enough to attract top industry fashion players or fans? How many of them have had fashion collaboration with top fashion brands or magazines? How much investment do they put into their sense of fashion? Do they even recognize the importance of having a fashion stylist? 

"Where your craft/talent can't take you, fashion can pull you through." - Fashion Journalist - Kwame Vergas 

Thankfully, the likes of Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and Wizkid keep coming out hard with their fashion games, which has attracted some top fashion houses such Burberry, Alexander Mcqueen and Dolce & Gabbana who’ve collaborated with them and signed them up as brand ambassadors. We've also seen features on magazine covers such as GQ, Flaunt, L'Officiel, 10magazine, The Guardian, Rolling Stone and DAZED.

Wizkid, for instance, has served countless looks in fashion spreads on platforms such as British GQ, The Guardian, 10magazine, Flaunt, FAB, Wonderland and Hunger. In June 2018 the StarBoy walked for Dolce & Gabbana's Spring Summer 2019 Men's Fashion Show in Milan, making him the first African musician to walk the runway for a leading fashion brand. Wizkid's fashion sense capitalizes on luxury so we often see the 'Essence' hitmaker in outfits from major fashion brands. His palette remains diverse, however, and sometimes he combines traditional Nigerian fabrics with neutral streetwear. According to Wizkid's stylist Karen Binns Wizkid’s style isn't merely ‘hip’... but a show of his intelligence and exposure to the world. Many afrobeats artists would do well to grasp the importance of investing in their aesthetic, like Big Wiz because designers and magazine outlets usually look beyond your music craft - the focus is more on uniqueness and sellability. 

Let's not forget that many people watch music videos because of the graphics and especially the fashion. Music videos have inspired lots of looks all over the world and that’s a great signal of if an artist can attract a buying audience. Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, D’Banj and Nicki Minaj have had their styles duplicated by scores of people. The style an artist portrays on both their music videos and socials determines their following and how they’re perceived in the world of fashion. The perfect case study is Wizkid, who offers his fans more than music to appreciate. Fans want more than just the music and personality or style are valuable ways to engage with them. 

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