Cape Verde Fashion

Origin, Inspiration and Future of Cape Verde Fashion

Fashion – is disputably one of the strongest components of a culture these days. It is a strong derivative of a region’s history, traditions, civilization and even climate. Even though Paris, Milan and New York have always been the global fashion hub, that hub is now becoming inclusive of all entities and cultures across the globe. Cape Verde fashion has been making its presence felt in the world over the last couple of years. It is refreshing to see this small island-country bringing forward its own trends in 2017 to the global fashion market.

Cape Verde fashion palette is a mosaic of various other cultures. Because 20% of Cape Verde’s GDP is tied to tourism, people from all across the west and Europe visit this beautiful islands of West Africa because of its pristine scenic beauty. Because of its strong influence of tourists and its former colonial roots, the Cape Verde fashion industry remained under the influence of European and Western fashion industry for a very long time. As a matter of fact, it had no fashion market of its own for many years after its independence. Most of the fashion merchandisers and boutique owners imported their high street fashion attire from Europe and America and sell them to the local consumers for profit. The fashion scene of the region heavily depended solely on the imported goods. Things started to shift in 2010 and the fashion industry of Cape Verde began to thrive. Several artists from Cape Verde participate New York and Milan fashion weeks and showcase their collections. These up and coming fashion designers have successfully distinguished Cape Verde fashion as a separate entity and brought forward their unique culture and history through clothing.

How Cape Verde Fashion Went Global?

Cape Verde’s first exclusive fashion magazine ‘So What’ went online in 2013, and it set the stage for Cape Verde fashion to go global. It featured local fashion designers like Mirte da Graça and Lisete Pote who provided Cape Verde fashion its basic infrastructure. Their designs featured bold and vibrant colors of the Caribbean, such as orange and blues with traditional tribal patterns. The high point of Cape Verde fashion was its 2015 plus size fashion show. Cape Verde ended 2015 with a series of cultural festivities, which included a runway fashion show for plus size women. The fashion show aimed to achieve two major goals:

  1. Discourage body shaming and encourage body positivity among African women and women across the globe
  2. Send the messages across the globe that fashion is an important medium of self-expression for Cape Verdeans

The plus size Cape Verdean fashion show surpassed its goals. The organizers of the show, Ivanilda Luz, and Marise Rodrigues were acclaimed for their message of positive body image, which led the way for Cape Verdean fashion designers towards a more global platform.

Who are the Pioneers of Cape Verde Fashion?

1. Nelida Cardoso

Nelida Cardoso’s fashion designs are a popping picture of her African ancestries, mixed with a fiery, feminist flare. Her 2014 runway collection stirred the global fashion world and played a major role in placing Cape Verde fashion on the global map. It was an Avante Garde inspired monochromatic collection, that featured traditional African nature-inspired fabric and earthy head accessories.

2. Cindy Monteiro

Cindy Monteiro is a Cape Verde fashion designer who fully embraced her heritage, which is reflected in her designs. The world first noticed Monteiro with her collection for the 2014 Vaiss Fashion Day. It was the first time Monteiro broke off the monochromatic trend and introduced some prints inspired by the European fashion trends to the Cape Verde runways. She has been consistent in releasing her lookbooks and designs since then.  Just recently she made her debut in the New York Fashion Week with a breathtaking island-inspired collection. Monteiro used shells and beads for her silk ruffled outfits and almost transplanted her entire audience to an island for a few minutes.

Bernadina – the collection Monteiro featured uses natural fabric including jute line and cotton line to enhance her African designs. To add to its uniqueness, the collection is hand painted by the designer herself so each piece makes an individual statement.

3. Josefa Da Silva

Josefa Da Silva is another Cape Verde born fashion designer who recently showcased her collection at the Accra Fashion Week. Da Silva draws her inspiration from her African roots and is known to marry them in a contemporary fusion with American fashion trends. With her textured fabrics and tribal prints, Da Silva has managed to successfully design many Cape Verde-inspired dresses for various global celebrities including former Miss Universe, Leila Lopes.

3. Angelica Timas

Angelica Timas, a trendsetting fashion designer located in Boston, Massachusetts was born in Praia, Cape Verde. Despite having any official training in the fashion industry, Timas’ vision and strong desire to become a designer, coupled with her discipline and good work ethic helped her to not only to pursue her dreams but to also successfully leave a mark in an industry unfamiliar to her original and professional territory.

The only thing that was between me and my dream was the fear of failure.– Angelica Timas

Timas also holds two Master’s degrees in totally unrelated fields, having received her formal education in Computer science and working as a Software Engineer, as well of being the proud founder and designer of the brand “Chikke”.

“Chikke” by Angelica Timas, which was launched not too long ago has gained significant traction in the fashion industry. Timas’ collections have been featured in many popular publications such as Glamor Italia, and Vogue England. Timas has also won many awards for her work including the Boston Fashion Award for evening wear. She continues to be popular in the fashion arena and can often be seen present in many fashion events throughout the world.

What is the High Street Fashion Scenario of Cape Verde?

Even though it is a tiny nation, Cape Verde is inhabited and visited by a plethora of ethnicities which only enrich its culture and heritage.

The main streetwear for both men and women in Cape Verde is chic and trendy and heavily inspired by the U.S and western street wear. At the same time, it also delves into its native traditions. Bold and graphic attire is pretty popular among the youth.

Based on recent trends, it is likely that Cape Verde will successfully make its separate and distinct mark in the global fashion industry.


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