What Do Kenyan People Wear?

With more than 70 ethnic groups living within its borders, Kenya does not have one identifiable, traditional style of dress. Modern Kenyans tend to dress in Western clothing. Residents of the country's coast, many of whom are Muslim, dress in a more Arabic fashion.

A number of Kenyans wear kitenge, a tie-dye cotton fabric favored by residents of many African countries. The semi-nomadic ethnic group, the Maasai, wear dark red clothing to represent their blood and dependence and love of the Earth.

Many Kenyan women wear a cloth known as a kanga, which is common throughout much of Africa. They generally wrap it around their torsos and waists. Over the decades, several Kenyan fashion designers have attempted to create a national dress. Margaret Akumu Gould, for instance, joined efforts with the Kenyan Ministry of Culture and Kenya Tourism Foundation to attempt it. However, so far nothing has caught on in the popular consciousness.

Regardless of whether they dress in Western or Arabic garb, most modern Kenyans practice a greater degree in modesty in their dress than Americans and other Westerners. In fact, travel experts recommend Westerners traveling to the country to avoid displaying too much skin, even when planning to swim in the ocean.