There’s a strong tradition of integrating fabrics from other cultures into clothing with classic cuts. Indian madras and seersucker and Scottish tweed are some of the most notable examples.
This, however, can be fraught with peril. To some, it smacks of cultural appropriation, the unmooring of another culture’s elements from its authentic context.
But I prefer to think of it as a natural product of synthesis–the melding together of distinct cultural elements to form a new and even more vibrant whole.
Frannie and I, over the past year, have developed an affection for African waxprint, the colorful cottons that are ubiquitous in countries like Nigeria and Ghana. Given the proclivity in preppy circles for “go to hell” prints, I can imagine this fabric eventually finding purchase among aficionados of classic American style.
I recently had the privilege of discovering Attollé Clothiers, a Houston-based company that specializes in clothing made from waxprint. Attollé was actually established about 13 years ago in Lagos, Nigeria by Bookey Itoandon, a lawyer by training. Eventually, Bookey found her way to the United States, and, in 2011, she relaunched Attollé Clothiers.
The skirt I purchased for Frannie is the Rini–a full midi skirt in an orange and aqua floral pattern. It’s truly a thing of beauty, and it speaks well to Frannie’s tastes–classic in cut but vibrant in print.
It’s a true inspiration to find companies like Attollé Clothiers with a commitment to classic but innovative clothing–particularly one that makes its products in our regional backyard.
(Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Bookey also included a free shirt for Frannie. There was a minor delay in our order, and she sent the shirt to make up for that, although her very kind gesture far exceeded any inconvenience we incurred. However, since it is our policy on Classic American Style to only review items we pay for ourselves, we haven’t included it in this post.)