The Dashiki and What it Represents

The Dashiki, also known as Kitenge, is a popular type of clothing worn throughout Western and Eastern Africa. The Dashiki is among the top African inspired clothing, along with traditional African headwraps (Dhukus) and Kufi caps.

They’re traditionally styled as a loose-fitting African dress that cover the top half of the body and worn by men, women and children. Its relaxed shape means zero constraints to certain body types, and can adorn all shapes from petite to plus size.



More about the Dashiki

The Dashiki can be worn both formally and informally designed for comfort during those times of intense heat. More formal Dashikis are mostly heavily embellished around the collar and chest. They’re also more brightly colored and vary between relaxed outfits and fully tailored suits. Dashikis are crafted in many different designs and vibrant patterns, which are known as ‘Ankara prints’ or ‘African wax prints’, due to their tribal-like style.

Those crafted in certain colors typically come with some significance. Grey is the traditional color for West African weddings, however, some groomsmen wear white during ceremonies. Purple and lavender represent the color of African royalty, whilst blue represents peace, love and harmony. Black and red are the traditional colors worn for funerals.


The Dashiki and African history

Aside from being a typical part of African fashion, the Dashiki holds symbolic significance with regards to African history. The bulk of its identity was influenced in America, but still stands proudly as African. The Civil Rights and Black Panther Movements between the 1960s and '70s gave the Dashiki its political influence, becoming a representation of Black Pride, along with the raised fist and Afro. The Dashiki was worn in protest to how African Americans were treated in the United States, becoming a representation to persist in the fight for full rights in American Society. 

Modern-day fashion now brands Dashiki as a ready-to-wear conveyor of African heritage, but it will always maintain its underlying cultural significance of imposing a powerful message. It’s become an emblem of African roots and a means of signifying ‘Black is Beautiful’, and features heavily throughout Black History Month.

With the increased awareness of Black History and the ongoing work charities such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ engage in, traditional African clothing is now more accessible thanks to online shopping. Online stores such as yours truly, Grass-fields, offer customers a range of different types of African fashion, including Dashikis, with some offering a mix of African-inspired European clothing too.


Browse Grass-fields today!

Founded by Cameroonian twin sisters Michelle and Christelle Nganhou, Grass-fields was created with a simple aim to put the love back into African print clothing again. To find out about what other African and Western-style print designs are available at Grass-fields, take a look here.


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