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How Fashion Historian Teleica Kirkland Is Transforming What We Know About Clothing From the African Diaspora

by Damola Durosomo

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Given that clothing tells the story of how people live, work and identify themselves—excluding Africa and its diaspora from the discussion undermines its cultural influence and threatens the push for more robust historical documentation of African people. If the rise of haute couture marked a period of newfound creativity and wealth in France, isn’t it also worth understanding, for instance, how fashion changed in various African countries both before and after the liberation movements of the 1960s?

This is where Teleica Kirkland’s work comes in. In 2011, Kirkland, a professor at the London College of Fashion, founded the UK-based Costume Institute of the African Diaspora (CIAD), a “growing resource hub” for knowledge sharing around African clothing and dress.

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