Meet the sisters behind Dashiki Pride, a clothing line steeped in African culture

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Meet the sisters behind Dashiki Pride, a clothing line steeped in African culture

I’m buying like, five Dashikis today

Growing up in a predominantly white school, it was hard for me to explain on Culture Day exactly where I was from. Unfortunately, my family is one of many who was completely stripped of our African heritage centuries ago.

But sisters Lilian, Chinyere and MarySonia Ugokwe have come from Nigeria to America with their clothing line, Dashiki Pride, dedicated to promoting African culture through fashion. In the process, they're helping many African-Americans reconnect with their roots.

The girls are only in their 20s but they're already making a name for themselves

Babe spoke to Lilian Ugokwe who told us how she and her sisters, born and raised in Nigeria, got into fashion. "Dashikis were a huge staple in our culture. We use to identify ourselves," she cited as the reason for wanting to commodify the garment. "It's something that starts up a conversation, to push the culture forward."

However, Lilian and her sisters wanted the brand to be more than an outfit for a special occasion. "African clothing is way too exaggerated but we want people to be able to wear it to work, go to the gym, and create it as a lifestyle brand," Lilian said. "Someone can wear it for any occasion."

The girls are currently designing a line of Dashiki sportswear, with some pieces from the original line featured on celebs like Blac Chyna.

@blacchyna wearing our brand new "Dashiki Long Cardigan" NOW AVAILABLE

A post shared by DashikiPride (@dashikipride) on

But she admitted she and her sisters were worried about cultural appropriation

"We had that fear the first time we went public, there was a lot of controversy — we are not for appropriation, but appreciation," she said. "They do appreciate the culture and want to learn. People from other cultures ask, 'Can we wear it?'"

Lilian said they wanted to preach love and understanding through the clothes. "We don’t all have to come from Africa to appreciate African culture."

And they don't do it because inclusivity is thriving

"We don’t do it for the trend," Lilian said. "We want to draw people back and take customers to Nigeria or Africa and learn where what they’re wearing comes from." We have events with African music and dancing and sit down and talk to our customers. We want to make it a lifestyle brand, she said.

And to them, a Dashiki isn't just a beautiful outfit

"It's a sense of identity," Lilian explains. "I used to identify myself to spark up the conversation. People who look like us whether you're African-American or African, we want to know where we come from," she said. "We want to dive into our roots. They look at it as something to connect with."

As Black woman who's been far removed from my African roots, I can appreciate the girls' values to include everyone and still maintaining a sense of identity. Also, I'll probably blow my check and stock up on everything on the site.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

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‘But you look white!’: What passing privilege means, and why it matters

@aribines