Agbada is the flowing robe traditionally worn by the Yoruba people across West Africa. It comes with an inner cloth of varying lengths and it also comes with a pair of bottom wear in form of native trousers called Shokoto. It also is worn most times with different caps like fila or abeti aja. Traditional Yoruba beads are often worn with it. The agbada a male attire worn for special events and everyday life, depending on the extravagance of the garment. It is a distinct robe that comes in different styles and designs [1]

Yoruba man in Agbada
A Yoruba man acting in a traditional drama, wearing an Agbada
Yoruba man in a type of Agbada

Many Agbada are made with aso oke or aso ofi fabric, but they can be made in other different fabrics including adire. Agbada is somewhat similar to the boubou/ babanriga, but is different in looks, style, shape, fabrics and materials used and are quite distinguishable. Agbada usually features native Yoruba embroidery as many times alongside the Grand knot native to the Yoruba culture. Agbada is one of the attires of Yoruba men, alongside others like Gbariye, Sulia, Oyala, Kembe.[2] Gbariye is close in looks to Agbada and many times considered a type of Agbada.



Agbada is a four-piece male attire found among the Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria and the Republic of Benin, West Africa.

It consists of a large, free-flowing outer robe (awosoke), an undervest (awotele), a pair of long trousers (sokoto), and a hat (fìla).

The outer robe—from which the entire outfit derives the name  Agbada, meaning "voluminous attire"—is a big, loose-fitting, ankle-length garment. In which the centerpiece is usually covered front and back with an elaborated embroidery. Its origin can be traced back to the medieval Sahelian kingdoms, where it evolved as a practical yet regal attire suitable for the region’s climate and social hierarchy.

During the medieval period, the Sahel was home to several influential kingdoms, such as the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai empires. These empires were centers of trade, wealth, and culture, facilitating interactions between North African, Sub-Saharan, and Middle Eastern civilizations. The flowing robes, including the agbada, were influenced by the garments worn in North Africa and the Islamic world, adapted to suit the needs of the Sahelian environment.

The Boubou was more than just clothing; it symbolized status, wealth, and cultural identity. In the Sahelian societies, it was traditionally worn by men of high social standing, such as kings, chiefs, and wealthy traders. The design of the agbada, with its wide sleeves and intricate embroidery, signified the wearer’s prestige and was often used in important ceremonies and public appearances.

As the Sahelian kingdoms interacted with neighboring regions through trade and conquest, the agbada style spread to other parts of West Africa. The robe’s adaptability made it a favorite among various ethnic groups, each adding their unique touches to its design and decoration. For instance, the Yoruba agbada, known for its elaborate embroidery, and the Hausa-Fulani version, often characterized by more subdued designs, reflect the diverse cultural influences that shaped this iconic garment.

Yoruba man in Gbariye


  1. ^ Anokam, Stella (2016-07-15). "Latest Agbada Styles with Embroidery Designs for Men (2022)". NaijaGlamWedding. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  2. ^ Lawal, Babatunde. "Agbada Clothing". LoveToKnow. Retrieved 2023-09-25.