Posted on

African Mud Cloth Fashion: a Hot Style Trend

African mud cloth, formally known as bogolanfini, has long been a part of fashion in Africa. Thanks to Malian fashion designer Chris Seydou, it has become a huge trend in fashion around the world in recent years. If you’re looking to update your wardrobe and be truly fashionable, you might want to consider adding some African mud cloth to your wardrobe.

The History of African Mud Cloth
Bogolanfini, more commonly referred to as African mud cloth, is a Malian tradition that dates back to the 12th century. The Malian tribe of West Africa used fermented mud to decorate handmade textiles. The mud was placed on the fabric to create culturally significant images, such as mythology, historical events and even animals that were important to the tribe. After the designs were painted onto the fabric, it would be washed off and the images would be dyed onto the fabric.

African mud cloth was primarily worn by Malian hunters, serving as camouflage and a status symbol for these important members of the tribe. Women would also wear the cloth when they were making the transition into womanhood and after childbirth. The fabrics would also be worn during wedding and funeral ceremonies. The Malian people believed that the images depicted on the fabric held special powers that would protect those who wore it.

African Mud Art in Modern Fashion
In the 1970s, Mali fought for their independence from the French, and during that time, a lot of the traditions of the Malian people were lost, including bogolanfini. However, some years later, African mud cloth was rediscovered, and in the 1980s, it became the symbol of the Malian people.

Thanks to Seydou Nourou Doumbia, known as Chris Seydou, a Malian fashion designer who was famous for using Malian fabrics, most notably bogolanfini, in his designs, African mud cloth was popularized around the world. The fabric has become a major Malian export, particularly to the United States. The intricate patterns are used to create visually interesting fashion pieces. Today, bogolanfini is worn by people around the world and certainly makes a bold fashion statement.

African Mud Cloth Fashion Pieces and Ideas
African mud cloth prints can be seen on virtually all types of clothing, from formal dresses to casual shirts. If you are fashion forward and you are interested in making a bold statement, you should certainly consider incorporating this trend into your wardrobe.

But, how do you go about wearing African mud cloth? Here are some ideas that you might want to try…

An example of a formal mud cloth fashion dress
An example of a formal mud cloth dress

As Formal Wear:
Whether you are attending a red carpet event or you are the celebrant at a formal affair, African mud cloth will certainly make a beautiful, eye-catching statement in your wardrobe.
You can find elaborate gowns that feature traditional African mud cloth prints, or prints that are inspired from the traditional prints that the Malian people created on bogolanfini. For example, a bogolanfini ball gown would make a definite statement on the red carpet or at a black tie event. Men can also incorporate bogolanfini into their formal attire; a bow tie, a neck tie or a shirt that features the intricate pattern would certainly stand out.


Semi Formal Attire:
You can certainly incorporate bogolanfini into semi formal attire to make an interesting and eye-catching fashion statement. These prints can be found on skirts, flowing robes, jackets and even slacks. Consider wearing a single bogolanfini inspired piece and accenting it with more understated items; for example, if you are going to wear an African mud cloth suit jacket, choose a solid colored shirt and pants to wear with it.

Professional Wear:
Why not add some fun to your work and wear African mud cloth inspired clothing to the office? A bogolanfini pencil skirt with a tailored shirt and heels would be absolutely stunning to wear to work. A tie that features a bogolanfini print with a solid colored button down shirt and a pair of trousers would look incredible on a man in the workplace.

African Mud Cloth Everyday Fashion:
You can also bring some bogolanfini inspired fashion into your everyday attire, too. If you’re spending the afternoon shopping and lunching with pals, an African mud cloth mini skirt or Capri pants paired with flats and a crisp, solid-colored T-shirt, button down or sweater would look divine. For men, an African mud cloth button down worn with a pair of jeans (the shirt not tucked in) would add some interest to an afternoon at a sporting event or drinks out with the guys.

African Mud Cloth Accessories:
How about adding some fun to your wardrobe with African mud cloth accessories? You can find bogolanfini prints on various types of accessories, including:

  • Clutches
  • Messenger bags
  • Briefcases
  • Wallets
  • Shoes
  • Tights
  • Socks
  • Earrings
  • Belts
  • Wraps
  • Shawls
  • Cell phone cases
  • Scarves

And those are just a few of the accessories that you can find with these beautiful prints!

African mud cloth fashion via colorful mud cloth scarves
Several colorful mud cloth scarves

Not sure how to work an African mud cloth accessory into your wardrobe? Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Use it as a hair accessory. Use a piece of African mud cloth fabric as a headband, a head wrap or a scarf around a pony tail
  • Wear a bogolanfini inspired scarf with a flowing T-shirt or a fitted T-shirt and a blazer
  • Tuck a shirt into a pair of pants and wear a belt printed with an African mud cloth design
  • A pair of earrings and shoes that feature an African mud cloth pattern would look lovely with a little black dress


There’s no doubt about it: African mud cloth is definitely one of the hottest trends in fashion. If you want to be totally fashionable and make a statement, you should absolutely add items that feature these beautiful designs to your wardrobe. A word of caution, however: Don’t overdo it; the patterns associated with African mud cloth can be very bold, and if you wear too much of it at one time, you will end up looking too busy and pull a fashion no-no instead.