Get set for a psychedelic African summer in bold patterns, bright prints

The spring/summer 2021 runways at African Fashion International rocked hallucinogenic patterns and a dive back into the '60s and '70s

14 November 2021 - 00:00
Imprint's 'Africa is not a trend' show.
Imprint's 'Africa is not a trend' show.
Image: Supplied by AFI

Summer is back! Gone are the days of hiding at home during the festive season. With more and more people vaccinating and an eagerness for fashion to push towards something other than tracksuits and uggs, the party mood taking over the world is coming to a fashion trend near you.

It should come as no surprise that current fashion trends are going gaga for bold prints, highly saturated tones and OTT silhouettes.

For their first in-person show since 2020, Gucci has looked back to ’70s Hollywood with feather boas and sweeping silhouettes donned by Alessandro Michele’s favourite models and muses.

Other than the previous trends from Prada and Fendi’s summer reminiscing of the late ’60s and early ’70s, fashion tends to embrace liberation through clothing.

Post-World War 2 America saw an excess of glamour and the celebration of the female figure. With rationing out of the way, the world was rocked with backless gowns and victory-inspired hair and suiting.

Even the late 2000s came out of the economic recession mad for everything bling, favouring luxurious fabrics like velour (let’s be honest, that was tacky) and layered accessories that hearkened to the oriental inspirations of the time.

For the spring-summer 2021 shows at African Fashion International (AFI) this was no exception. While many of the collections may be a fustercluck of uninspired pieces, a psychedelic summer proved to be the winning mood for this summer.

A welcome dive back into the mid-’60s and ’70s has also been embraced by TikTok trendsetters. With their ever-fleeting love for micro-trends, users of the app have brought back many long-forgotten fads and some have transformed into staples.

Imprint's mission is to normalise African designs rather than have them ogled as a micro trend.
Imprint's mission is to normalise African designs rather than have them ogled as a micro trend.
Image: Supplied by AFI

Flowy Farah Fawcett blowouts have been a recurring challenge with many taking on the style.

The Hockney dress, famously worn by Kendall Jenner, became an instant sensation. The hallucinogenic dress sold out so quickly on e-tailing sites that it became fashionable to criticise it. 

The hypnotising prints, colours and pieces of the era are here to stay. Here are some of AFI’s best runway looks and trends to follow:


In their signature take on bold prints and silhouettes, Imprint’s collection revisited a previous theme, “Africa is not a trend”. The show attempts to normalise African design rather than have them ogled as a micro trend. This second chapter of the collection sees neons and animal prints take centre stage in the brand’s commitment to celebrating the African heritage.

This is reinforced in Imprint’s eclectic take on colour blocking, with pops of orange sure to be a must-have colour this summer.

Menswear accessories are bigger and bolder, the perfect canvas for eye-catching colours and fabrics. Accessories like chunky shades and big bows add a ’70s spin on Afrofuturism.


Never a fashion house that keeps it simple, the new Amen collection is an exciting take on going wild.

The collection’s inspiration is heavily influenced by the streets of Johannesburg, seamlessly stitched through Basotho blankets, bomber jackets and beanies that carry the ideal look of downtown Gauteng.

The colourful salons, goods sold by informal traders and the streets are all reflected on layered ensembles and accessories that echo the popping colours one would find when in the area — something the design duo behind the brand capture in the collection’s fashion film, Amen Salon.

The urban approach to what a new summer looks like in the city can also be seen in the more tongue-in-cheek looks that feature an orange sack balanced on a model’s head. The bold colour complements the polyester skirt with Zulu leopard print and khanga accents. Barbershop motifs are featured on a number of pattern blocked shirts and tees.

The new Amen collection is an exciting take on going wild.
The new Amen collection is an exciting take on going wild.
Image: Supplied by AFI
Amen's collection celebrates the City of Johanesburg.
Amen's collection celebrates the City of Johanesburg.
Image: Supplied by AFI



The silky hair protector is the new cap for menswear. Whether hitting the beach or going for a braai, the piece works with just about any outfit. Both Imprint and Amen take on neon colours for this trend, so opt for colours that will pop. A gender-fluid piece, ladies can also try this with a kaftan or luxury pyjama ensembles.


The genderless fashion of the late to mid-’60s and ’70s is truly taking over. No need to keep to the same old muscle tanks for the hotter days of the season, try cropped shirts and tees that can work perfectly at the gym or poolside.


This is all about mixing prints with each other — striped zebras with spotted cheetahs, or if you’re not as bold, the same print in opposing colours can also work. Avoid clashing neons and pastels as this could be an eyesore attempt at colour blocking.


With the bold colours taking over runways and stores, tone down these heavy looks with pastel accessories. A soft-toned colour-blocked satchel or pop art-inspired print on handbags with different textures can also complement maximalist layered looks.