South African women are forging new fashion frontiers by embracing their heritage

Zulu beaded necklaces, suit jackets with African print trimming on the lapel and sleeves—these are just some of the offerings from Earth Nut, a fashion label and Johannesburg-based shop that proudly celebrates Africa with workplace-ready attire. Its founder, Nosipho Maketo-van den Bragt, knew first-hand that there were women in high-flying corporate jobs who needed meticulously-tailored outfits that had colors and accents reflecting a beautiful heritage.

Though the pandemic has meant that most people are working from home, enterprising designers such as Earth Nut have innovated, selling face masks that both protect their wearers and promote their culture. On Instagram and across websites and online storefronts, masks tell the story of a colorful culture. They come in the bright red and blue of East Africa’s signature Maasai Shuka fabric, in the earthy yellow, green and orange tones of Ghana’s Kente cloth, and in the kaleidoscopic hues of South African Shweshwe print.

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