Around the World in Lingerie: First Stop, Africa

Given the overrepresentation of lingerie featured on this blog from Europe and North America, I thought I would try to diversify my lingerie searches and focus on one continent at a time (excluding Antarctica, of course!). After discovering RUBY South Africa, I was naturally curious to discover more African lingerie brands, which brings me to this article highlighting some of the beautiful and interesting lingerie from across the continent. Enjoy!

Baie Nice

Baie Nice Citron Silk Bra, $88

Baie Nice creates handmade lingerie from Cape Town, South Africa. I chose to feature this set because of the gorgeous color, plus the embroidery (although it’s hard to see in the image). The size range is tiny, 32-36 B-D, but that’s something I noticed across these brands.

Atiklaman

Akissi Lingerie Set 53.90€

Atiklaman is my favorite of the African lingerie designers that I’ve come across, which is why I couldn’t only include images of one of their sets. They have such a beautiful use of traditional African fabrics and amazing colors! The original patterns and materials are what make me really want to give them a try. The bad news: the size range is once again extremely small, including only 85-95 B-C.

Atiklaman Afiwa Set 49.90 €

Isn’t that color absolutely fantastic? So vibrant.

Arwen Garmentry

Arwen Garmentry Black Arwen Girdle $198

Arwen Garmentry is South Africa’s premier corsetière and I love the look of this long, laced girdle. They also have some cool ready to wear garments with a Victorian slant to them. If you’re looking for a corset or girdle from anywhere in Africa, it seems like this is where you might need to go!

Ruby South Africa

Ruby South Africa Coral and Dusty Blu Set, $40

You already met Ruby when I featured the black set, but I think the coral and dusty blue is another gorgeous colorway. Is it really ‘Earth-Moving Lingerie’? You decide.

Miek’s Knickers

Miek’s Knickers Grey and Satin Lace Set $33

This little loungewear set from South African brand Miek’s Knickers is so cute! I like the light blue/navy combination is a great one.

Fatou Fatal

Guarana Lingerie Set, €1,265.00

Designer Fatou Kébé was born in Senegal, but grew up in France, designing for her own label “Fatou Fatal.” This set is so expensive, but there are rabbit fur pom-poms! Anything with pom-poms instantly wins my heart.

One thing I do want to talk about is how so many of the models of these designs are white. Among African designers, it seems no more common than among American ones to use darker skinned models, which is such a shame– when the vast majority of the population looks a certain way and you choose to represent the more powerful minority in your imagery, I think that says a lot about the way that lingerie excludes women of color. In some cases there were some pieces by these designers shot on women of color, but I preferred the other lingerie– it’s just sad that so often it comes down to choosing between representing diversity and showing off good lingerie.

On a more uplifting note, it was fantastic to find so many great brands from across Africa. If anyone else knows of some good ones, please let me know! I always like to expand my lingerie knowledge.

Next up: South America!

13 Comments
  1. I love love love this idea! Thanks for introducing me to some new lingerie brands. The Atiklaman looks were my favorite with the vibrant prints.

  2. Yet another great article Lingerie Lesbian – I especially loved the brand Atiklaman – the use of Batique is wonderful and something that Beautifully Undressed is exploring using for our first collection. As far as the use of mostly white models, again I appreciate and wish to address on our site – there is unfortunately this perception that African women are not interested in lingerie which I can assure you is far from the truth. And also as you mention, the stigma that by choosing to use a minority model, that somehow the product will not be popular. The main stream lingerie brands choose to use only white models for reasons that is long established in the fashion world and explains why black models are always a minority on the catwalks. But this is changing slowly as more African brands and designers are making a stand as African fashion becomes more mainstream. This change in mindset will also come through in the lingerie industry – after all lingerie is about the female form, black, white, yellow or green – it’s about feeling womanly and great :)

    • Great comment! I too hope to see plenty more African lingerie designers soon and hope there is a gigantic change in attitude about who is appropriate to model beautiful lingerie ( I think it should be everyone!) :)

  3. The majority of these are South African designers, yes?
    I’m guessing other countries may have more of a taboo concerning photos of women in underwear.

    • Yes, the majority are South Africa. I found it much more difficult to find anything from other countries, and in fact the designer of Fatou Fatal got in trouble with a fashion show she had in her native country of Senegal.

  4. Very interesting designs, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

    We have the same problem here in Brazil. So often they use very light skin/blonde models, which just don’t match the population very well. There was actually a modelling contest here awhile back Top Cufa that focused on getting girls from the favelas into modelling and for once there really was a diverse cast of models that represented the average Brazilian (granted, hard to say what that really is since Brazil has such a wide range of people). I made a post about it and compared some of the models in the lingerie industry locally and at least found that Demillus had a more diverse group of models but most other brands failed pretty miserably. :( http://www.bralessinbrasil.com/2012/10/why-you-should-care-about-brazils-top.html

    Personally, I find this so upsetting. While I might look as white as they come, my daughter does not and I can see even at a young age how she’s affected by the emphasis on blonde hair and blue eyes in the media. We’ve had a lot of talks about how one hair color/skin color/eye color etc isn’t better than another but it’s an on going discussion because it seems that from everywhere else the underlying message is the opposite.

  5. Awesome idea and awesome line-up! I particularly like the Atiklaman sets that you’ve chosen, as I’m a “wax” fabric fanatic. Based on their use of French sizing (85-95 must refer to 32-36, not 36-38), they might be based in France. Mmmm must investigate…
    I think that the overwhelming use of white models has to do with lots of the brands being South African.

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