Fashioning Cultural Equity : A study of the materials, practices, products and consumers of fashion company Afriek

University essay from Stockholms universitet/ModevetenskapStockholms universitet/Centrum för modevetenskap

Abstract: In today’s globalising world, cultural differences are often exacerbated and exploited for commercial purposes. Recently, various transnational fashion companies have arisen that aim to soothe such cultural tensions, establishing cross-cultural dialogue through the production of fashion. This thesis explores how one of such companies, Afriek, may bridge cultural differences through the production of garments made of African kitenge cloth, in a crosscultural collaboration between The Netherlands and Rwanda. In this study, the company is regarded not as a homogenous, profit-directed entity, but as a complex network of mutually affective human and non-human actors. Through a material culture study of kitenge and ethnographic interviews with Afriek’s team and consumers, their encounters and interactions are located. These are analysed with Homi Bhabha’s concepts of Third Space and cultural hybridity, concepts that challenge cultural binaries. In a transnational and cross-cultural journey past Afriek’s materials, practices, products and consumers, this thesis positions Afriek as a company that productively and affirmatively engages with existing cultural diversity through fashion.

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