Agbada: Origin and Various Types in Today’s World.
Written by Obi Esoghene Sandra
Fashion in Africa has evolved as creativity of leading fashion designers in the continent into the skies, hence giving us more attention globally because African wears and styles are quite unique from the western world.
However, many people say “necessity is the mother of invention”. But talking about fashion in this part of the world, Nigerians can be considered as one of the stylish and pacesetters when it comes to looking good and wearing something good, no matter the cost.
Gone are those days we proudly put on our Agbada with costumes to fit any occasions, but these days, African designers have taken it to the next level by creating different types of Agbada, as the fashion world is changing gradually. More so, Africanstylesandculture have gone extra miles to give a deep insight into the Origin of “Agbada”, which has become the theme of fashion statements at different occasions in and outside the shores of Nigeria.
It is worth mentioning that the “Agbada” is not exclusive to the Yoruba, as it is being found in other parts of Africa as well. It is known as ‘Mbubb’ among the Senegambia and as ‘Riga’ among the Hausa and Fulani of the West African Savannah, from where the Yoruba adopted it and made a desire of millions that are fashion conscious all over the world. The general consensus among scholars is that the attire originated in the Middle East and was introduced to Africa by Berber and Arab merchants from the Mediterranean coast. By the early nineteenth century, the attire has been adopted by many non-Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa, most especially kings, chiefs, and elites, who not only modified it to reflect local dress aesthetics, but also replace the turban with indigenous head gears. The bigger the robe, the more elaborate its embroidery, the higher the prestige and authority associated with it.
Types of Agbada Clothing
There are two major types of Agbada among the Yoruba’s, namely the Casual (Agbada Iwole) and Ceremonial (Agbada Amurode), commonly called “Sulia or Sapara.’’ The casual agbada is smaller, less voluminous, and often made of light and plain cotton. The Sapara came into being in the 1920s and is named after a Yoruba medical practitioner, Dr. Oguntola Sapara, who felt uncomfortable in the traditional agbada. He therefore asked his tailor not only to reduce the volume and length of his agbada, but also to make it from imported, lightweight cotton. The ceremonial agbada, on the other hand, is bigger, more ornate, and frequently fashioned from expensive and heavier materials.
Ceremonial (Agbada Amurode) Vs Casual (Agbada Iwole)
The Modern Versions
Going back to the memory lane, since the beginning of the twentieth century, new materials such as brocade, damask, and velvet have been used for the agbada. The traditional design, along with the embroidery, is being modernized in different styles and attires in Africa and other countries of the world.
Agbada back in those days were meant for males only, but of recent, the males noticed that Africa females couldn’t help becoming part of the fashion trend. It is in vogue now to see more of young Nigerian ladies who follow the latest trend (fashionistas), adorning agbada at different occasions, and they often adorn to match with that of their hubby.
Couples posing in Agbada
We are now seeing trends where couples step out in matching agbada outfits, thereby breaking the ancient style boundaries of native wears. When it comes to agbada styles for couples, one thing is certain, there are no set of rules. All you need to do is to ensure that your outfits complement themselves.
You can go the normal route of using the same agbada embroidery design, or you can mix and complement each other in terms of colours. It can also be in terms of length and design. There are nice agbada styles for ladies and for guys too. All that matters is that you both feel comfortable and look good!
One other beautiful concept of the Agbada designs for couples, it allows for their kids to feature in them and it is just a beautiful sight to behold if you have a son and daughter rocking the Agbada outfit alongside you as a couple. Single moms and single dads could also rock the Agbada outfit with their kid and still slay stylishly. I can bet that in many years to come, the Agbada outfit would still be trendy in the fashion domain and it’s definitely a fashion wear to live for in this world.
Ebuka Obi Uchendu rocking his agbada