OMAHA, Neb. — With the Afro Excellence Gala just a few weeks away, African clothing stores are keeping busy. The garments keep immigrants in the metro area connected to their homes in Africa.
MJ Fashions is a store where memories come alive through fashion design. People picking out an outfit that is African inspired is also making a true fashion statement as each piece of African cloth tells a story.
"They have meanings, most of the meanings are positive meanings; things like it will get better, love me more, this is my husband or I am grateful for God," said Mourdjana Batcha, owner of MJ Fashions.
Bold colors, vibrant patterns and unique styling are attributes of African clothing.
"The materials in here is stuff my grandparents wore and I feel I am embodying that when come here and I am able to purchase it," said Anna Mock, a shopper from South Sudan.
"You can celebrate African culture through music, food and clothing; they say accessories are what really helps makes a statement."
Omaha has a strong African population with each group excited to represent a part of themselves and their heritage.
There are Togolese, Sudanese, Ghanaian, Beninese, Senegalese, among other African cultural groups here in Omaha.
The garments are being appreciated by more than just Africans.
"I have seen so much growth in other cultures — white, Black — interested in African garments. It is so satisfying and it is hard to explain the beauty in it," continued Batcha.
The cloth is a way of celebrating culture and expressing pride.
"Some villages have a uniform and they wear it and when you see them you are like, 'Oh, this is so and so village,'" added Batcha.
African fabrics are non-seasonal so you can get a lot more wear out of them. You can buy off the rack or pick out your cloth of choice. An outfit will be made to suit you and what you are hoping to express.
The upcoming Afro Excellence Gala takes place on Saturday, December 4 at the Steppe Center in La Vista.
Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/afro-excellence-gala-2021-ankara-wear-tickets-199526056807