Film to Fashion: Wanna Wear Wakanda? So Do We!

Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia and Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa in Black Panther
Photo: Marvel Studios/Disney

Another weekend, another box-office record broken by Marvel’s Black Panther, which scored another $108 million domestically last weekend and is already topping $700 million worldwide. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that we not only want to go to Wakanda, we want to live there. Who wouldn’t?

But if there’s one gripe we have with our cinematic utopia, it’s that outside of the typical T-shirts and action-figure merch, the brilliant minds at Marvel seem to have underestimated how much we’d want to inhabit this world—starting with our closets. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter’s glorious design work was not only gorgeous but wearable, and while Marvel’s “Welcome to Wakanda” presentation during New York Fashion Week gave us a taste of how some of those styles might translate into the real world, it ultimately just left us starving for more.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

While those styles were fly, they were only vaguely evocative of what we saw on the big screen. With that in mind, we’ve put our heads together to create our own silver-screen-to-street-slay lookbook [Editor’s note: Watch out for spoilers!], inspired by our favorite looks. Let’s get into it, starting with everyone’s favorite prodigy, Shuri:

Letitia Wright as Shuri in Black Panther
Photo: Marvel Studios/Disney

We love, love, loved Shuri’s super-accessible but luxe athletic-inspired style. While it was too sophisticated to call “athleisure,” it definitely gave us the kind of sporty, futuristic chic we bet is all the rage in Wakanda. I loved the modernist neoprene and reworked sweatshirt stylings—not to mention her incredible white lab dress, which I have a feeling will inspire more than a few minimalist wedding gowns—but The Glow Up Editor Veronica Webb fell hard for her more ceremonial looks:

The princess of Wakanda coronation-ceremony corset crushed it with Maasai-style beadwork, and the gold-plated alligator “jaw grill” took gold fronts to a whole new level. Corset-style bustiers worn over tees and button-down shirts are an ’80s-inspired trend I predict will now go Wakandan with beaded prints in active wear and beaded body-cage necklaces showing up on both runways and in shop windows.


If you’re a fan of Shuri’s sporty-chic style, look no further than the sleek and saturated silhouettes of Chromat, though I also spotted plenty of Shuri-worthy styles in the latest activewear collection by online retailer ASOS.

Left and right: Looks by Chromat Fall/Winter 2018; center: Shuri in Black Panther
Photo: Left and right: Noam Galai (Getty Images for Chromat), center: Marvel Studios/Disney

Now onto Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o): I personally swooned over the one-shouldered, green wax-print jumpsuit she wore while walking through Step Town with T’Challa. Needless to say, sundresses aren’t the only thing I’ll be rocking this summer, and I headed right over to online African marketplace Zuvaa on Afrikrea to score some Nakia street style.

For Veronica Webb, it was all about the nightlife:

The green halter-neck dress worn in the Korean casino? Now, that’s literally how you slay. As daring as the slit-to-there dress looked on her beyond-perfect toned and glowing body, this silhouette actually looks good on all body types. Proms and summer garden parties get ready: Wakanda is coming in force.


LaQuan Smith and Xuly Bët both nailed Nakia’s rather-be-seen-in-green style in their Fall/Winter 2018 collections:

Left to right: LaQuan Smith Fall/Winter 2018; Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia in Black Panther; Xuly Bët x Mimi Prober x Hoan Mclaughlin Fall/Winter 2018
Photo: Left to right: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images), Marvel Studios/Disney, Noam Galai (Getty Images)

But costume designer Carter brought Black Panther’s male leads through in style, too. If you’re a tech-savvy traditionalist, like T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), you can actually cop the T’Challa tunic from Afrikrea, closely modeled after the fitted black embroidered jacket he first wore on the throne. A riff on his purple-embroidered vest is available as a tunic from the site as well.

Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa in Black Panther
Photo: Marvel Studios/Disney

But if Killmonger’s (Michael B. Jordan) rough and rugged all-American look is more your style, look no further than American unisex-friendly brands Levi’s, Wrangler and Pyer Moss, who nailed our legacy in American style with its “American Also” collection during New York Fashion Week.

Veronica Webb also predicts that we’ll see a lot more scarification as a trend in body art. She says this is “ritual body art at its best. I think we might see these turning up as a choice in piercing studios and as a choice for Greeks over traditional frat branding.”

Look from Pyer Moss Fall/Winter 2018 collection; Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images), Marvel Studios/Disney

Veronica thinks we’ll being seeing a lot more skull art, too, as seen on Danai Gurira as General Okoye. She’s envisioning long-wear temporary skull tattoos for the sultry days of summer.


On that note, let’s talk about Okoye out of uniform: Gorgeous! I was coveting her plaid trench during the interrogation scene, and Veronica and I were both gagging over her little black dress in the final scene (we know you stayed for the credits, didn’t you?). Coupled with the gold neck rings by Black Panther jewelry, Okoye’s look was giving us ’90s-era Donna Karan—or contemporary Cushnie et Ochs.

Cushnie et Ochs Fall/Winter 2018; Danai Gurira as Okoye (foreground) in Black Panther with Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia
Photo: Slaven Vlasic (Getty Images), Marvel Studios/Disney

But who can forget the gorgeous blankets worn by W’Kabi’s Border tribe and, later, by the royal family during their escape? Inspired by the Basotho blankets of South Africa, these were perhaps the most covetable pieces in the film, featuring saturated hues and traditional honeycomb patterns, embellished with foiled patterns as a foreshadowing of their dual use as force field shields in the film.

Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) and the Border Tribe in Black Panther
Photo: Marvel Studios/Disney

Dying to have one of my very own, I instantly went in search of these incredible blankets, which are almost exclusively produced by South African company Aranda. But never fear: The company does export (though you’ll have to convert the currency from rands), and a limited number are also available stateside via retailers Accompany and Blankets and Weaves.

I’m looking forward to draping a couple of these across my furniture; but ever the fashionista, Veronica is envisioning Basotho blanket jackets for fall, which my intrepid search turned up on none other than Etsy. South African retailers Weiss Capetown create made-to-order Basotho jackets in a variety of styles and colors. So, now, we can all be wrapped up in our love for Wakanda.


Of course, there were plenty more looks to love from Black Panther—for instance, the 3-D printed shrugs and and Cameroonian-inspired headdresses Carter created for Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda were literal works of art. But if you’re looking for more than a T-shirt to commemorate your trip to our imaginary homeland, you don’t need a Royal Talon Fighter to get them!

Image: Giphy (Marvel Studios/Disney)

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