Fashion Cities Africa: Brighton Stories

Fashion Cities Africa: Brighton Stories was a display of striking life-size portrait images and accompanying oral history recordings, shown on the South Balcony of Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 30 April – 28 August 2016.

The display documented the unique fashion identities created by individual members of Brighton & Hove’s African diaspora.

In late 2015 Brighton Museum & Art Gallery hosted a fashion shoot and invited anyone with a passion for African fashion to come and take part. 21 people came with family and friends to have their photographs taken. They presented a rich contrast of traditional, flamboyant and subtle uses of African-inspired fashions. After the museum shoot, eight members of African diaspora communities took part in location shoots around Brighton & Hove and shared their African fashion stories through oral history recordings.

This display showcased the results of the project. You can find out more about African fashion practices in Brighton & Hove through images in the LOOKBOOK featuring everyone who took part in the fashion shoots.

The photographers were Judith Ricketts and Paul Jackson. Community liaison services were provided by Sarah Naomi Lee.


A man wearing a long Islamic style white robe over white trousers, with a red scarf and red cap, stands in front of brightly coloured beach huts on Hove seafront

Sabri Ben-Ameur

Photographed on Hove seafront

‘When you wear this, you feel proud…you’re carrying not a message, but you’re carrying a culture and a tradition of many years and my grandad and my great grandad – it gives you that feeling that’s indescribable to be honest with you.’

A woman stands with her arms outstretched in front of an Indian style arch on the Royal Pavilion estate, wearing a geometric print brown and black poncho over a black top and leggings, and a purple headwrap.

Phati Mnguni

Photographed in the grounds of the Royal Pavilion

‘It’s not quite typical African style…I believe in being a part of where I live, integrating with my community and not losing the fact that my identity, where I come from, is part of me but constantly changes.’

A woman stands in the Pavilion Gardens in Brighton wearing a long green tunic top over black and white print leggings

Kimberly Kabuchi

Photographed in the grounds of the Royal Pavilion

‘I got these things from one of the charity shops in Brighton. I believe strongly in using the resources that are local so I went to the charity shop…and they normally have all this African stuff so everything came from that shop apart from the shoes which came from Kenya. So I just picked and it was a mix and match kind of thing.’

A man in a black bowler hat, sunglasses and a long black overcoat over a black suits stands in Brighton station

Thomas Onyimba

Photographed at Brighton station

‘I’m not wearing my typical African traditional clothes which I always love doing, I always wear what I call smart casual, and I always go out with a hat. I like wearing a hat to match whatever I wear.’

A man wearing a brown trilby, long black trench coat, white shirt and blue jeans stands in a blue doorway next to a shuttered shopfront

Olu Adeosun

Photographed in Lower Goods Yard, Under Brighton station

‘The scarf reminds me of an African print. I like strong print on silk scarves – this is one of a dozen that I own. For me it’s not just for warmth; it’s a very good way to remind myself that there is some colour in my life, in my background.’

A woman wearing a dutch wax print trouser suit and white fringed sandals stands on a Brighton street

Pende Wasswa

Photographed on Hartington Road, Brighton

‘For the outfit that I chose I actually bought the material when I went to visit Uganda last year, and I drew out the kind of style I wanted… The material is African but the style is European, so it’s like a European/African chic way of dressing.’

A man stands on Brighton bandstand wearing a black hat, grey shirt with white feather cuffs, black waistcoat and black trousers with black and white brogues

Saidi Kanda

Photographed on Brighton seafront

‘In Congolese they’ve got a name for people who like fashion a lot ‘Sapeur’… then people who can’t afford so much, but they create fashion, they call themselves ‘Sapologiste’…When people sometimes ask, ‘Why you wear like that?’ I say, ‘I bring my music into fashion, in the street fashion, because I’m a Sapologiste.’”

A woman wearing a purple blouse and matching skirt, with a red headwrap

Janet Harris

Photographed in St Ann’s Well Gardens, Hove

‘[Clothes] are very, very important to me, because here you can wear anything, not just here even in Tanzania…These are the things you have to identify with yourself to say, ‘Look, I’d better not forget also who I am.’ I can wear anything else there is, but this one takes me back home.’