Africa is a complex continent. Granted there are shared similarities amongst its citizens, each country has its own blend of cultural and lingual framework. On FashionGHANA, we have mainly looked into style from Ghana and Nigeria, and at times Ethiopia and South Africa, but don’t underestimate the trends and fashion being executed in other regions.
Take for example, Ethiopia. It has over 80 ethnic groups with their own cultures, customs, dialects, lifestyles, and traditions. Enough to give birth to a whole new generation of style influencers. The country may have a variety of textile products to choose from, but there are few notable pieces that are ubiquitous. One such piece being our very loved Habesha Kemis, mainly because it feels like African print on white fabrics. It’s considered the traditional dress of Ethiopia, as well as, a cultural dress in Eritrea.
The Habesha Kemis is a white hand-woven cotton clothing that is made from shemma by traditional weavers known as Shemane. This is a cloth made by sewing together long strips of woven fabric. And although the colour segments are seem as print, they are actually hand-made patterns known as Tibeb, made using woven shiny threads and are added to the Kemis on the waistband and edges.
However, the way the Kemis is presented can differ by community and ethnicity. The Shewa version can choose to place the embroidery on the bottom, cuffs or waist of the dress. Sometimes, it will feature on all three places. On the other hand, the Gondar version positions the embroidery on the bottom hem, only at the back of the dress.
Traditionally, the Kemis is ankle-length and uses a white shemma. Nevertheless, there is a more and more increase of modernised versions which have adopted different structures and styles. For instance, designers have been working with dyed versions of the shemma and utilizing modern dress silhouettes.
For now, check out some lovely pieces below culled from the creators instagram pages. To get your hands on some of these beautiful Habesha Kemis follow their pages.