'Black Panther' helps boost sales at African clothing store in Boston

BOSTON -- A small Dorchester business is booming as “Black Panther” sells out movie theaters.

Since the movie’s premier, customers have been flocking to the shop that sells African clothes and accessories.

“It’s been a busy, busy, busy day,” Ebby Ihionu, owner of Elegance African Fashion, told Boston 25 News.

Ihionu has been running the small shop beneath her home on Mt. Everett Street in Dorchester for more than 10 years, but this winter has been her most hectic winter season.

Originally from Nigeria, she sells ready-to-wear traditional garb inspired by countries across Africa and carries brightly colored fabrics for special-order pieces.

“We have Nigeria, we have Tanzania, we have Ghanaian, Cameroonian, we have just Liberia, everywhere,” she said.

A fashion designer by trade, Ihionu has been opening early and staying late since the premier of “Black Panther.”

“Actors, actresses, costume, everything, everything represented well. And Africa was – ahh, it was super,” she said.

The superhero blockbuster stars a predominantly black cast and was made by a black director. It depicts a strong fictional nation called Wakanda while smashing stereotypes, celebrating African heritage, and inspiring black moviegoers.

Customers at the Dorchester shop are buying traditional African garb to display their pride at the theater.

“This is actually going to be my first African attire and I’m excited to wear it,” Andrew William from Malden said. “I’m going to wear it with a couple friends, and we're going to see the movie tonight, and at my church tomorrow we’ll have Black History Month.”

It’s a feeling of pride Ihiona can barely contain. She loves sharing her first home with the Boston community.

“That’s my thing. I want them to come in and be like, ‘Wow.’ When they leave they're like, ‘Wow,’ again. They [are] super happy. And they come back,” she said.