MORE ABOUT FABRICS FROM WEST AFRICA
ORIGINS OF AFRICAN PRINTS
In the 70’s, Accra, Ghana’s capital, was the hub for premium, African-made waxprints. Interestingly, according to Stephen Badu, Director of Ghanaian fabric brand GTP, the Nigerian term “Ankara” came from Nigerian tradesmen who were in fact referring to Accra and its abundance of quality cloth at that time.
Unfortunately, the influx of cheaply-made imitation prints significantly impacted Ghana’s textile industry over the years, and continues to do so today. Accra used to be home to 13 textile factories which employed over 20,000 people. There are now only 3 textile factories in business and the industry employs less than 5,000 people.
For these reasons, we are intentional about promoting fabrics made by African brands, such as GTP and Woodin. Their prints are manufactured by Tex Styles Ghana, Ltd., one of Ghana’s few remaining factories. GTP and Woodin prints are available in a variety of textures and colors, and they are identified by both classic and limited edition designs.
Thirty-five to forty percent of the cotton used by GTP and Woodin is 100 percent made in Ghana. The cotton is sourced from farmers in Ghana’s Northern Region and then transported by a local logistics company to Ghana’s Volta Region.
The Volta Star Company, a wholly-owned Ghanaian company, manufactures the cotton into premium grey cloth, and then designs are printed onto the cloth in Tema, Ghana. The prints are then distributed locally and internationally, where they are used to make a variety of beautiful garments and other items. Explore your creativity with our collection of GTP and Woodin prints!
ORIGINS OF ADINKRA SYMBOLS
If you’ve had the opportunity to visit Ghana, you know that Adinkra symbols can be found practically everywhere—from textiles to architecture and more. These historic symbols originate from Ntonso, a village in the Ashanti Region.
The underlying values of Adinkra symbols can be appreciated by all. Read about some popular symbols below.
We source our screenprinted Adinkra prints from a shop in Accra that is owned by a boss mom and her daughters.
ORIGINS OF TIE & DYE/BATIK
West African hand-dyed fabrics are truly one-of-a-kind. They are made using different techniques as well as different types of fabrics: cotton, lightweight chiffon, Guinea brocade, and more.
These hand-dyed fabrics are used in everyday fashion, accessories, and decor.
When making tie and dye (known as “Adire” in Nigeria), twine or wool thread is tied around plain white cloth to create an intricate pattern. It is then dyed, often with numerous different colors.
Batik is another way to make fabric by hand. Batikers will either stamp designs onto fabric using foam that has been dipped into hot wax, or they will draw on the fabric by free-hand, using a foam stencil. The cloth is later dyed, dried, boiled, and then washed, revealing the stamped or hand-drawn designs. Designs range from vintage, cultural symbols to modern and abstract designs.
ORIGINS OF KENTE CLOTH
Authentic kente is a vibrant and sacred fabric, handwoven by the Ashanti and Ewe tribes of Ghana. Kente is associated with royalty; it is often worn during traditional ceremonies like weddings, graduations, and funerals. These days, authentic kente is also used in making accessories and home decor.
As mentioned, kente cloth is often confused with factory-made kente prints (which are often mass-produced outside of Africa). We are currently working with members of the Bonwire Kente Weavers Association to educate people about the importance of maintaining the weaving industry. There are ways to be both creative and respectful of the cloth, so that we continue to share its cultural significance and pass the cloth and its stories down to future generations.
Stay tuned as we are currently building a digital library which will document important details about various kente designs.
Kente strips (or “stoles”) are woven with rayon, radiant, silk, or cotton threads. When making clothing, several strips are sewn together to create a large piece of cloth, like above. It can take up to four weeks or more to weave kente cloth. We are dedicated to preserving and promoting this indigenous art.
Browse our current selection and make sure to check out our Instagram story every #WovenWednesday to order new and readily available designs!
FREE 2-4 day shipping from Ghana!
ORIGINS OF BATAKARI
Also known as “fugu” or “smock” fabric, Batakari is another indigenous, handwoven cloth from Ghana. It is a great quality, breathable fabric that features a unique blend of stripes and solids. The fabric is commonly used for traditional smocks, wedding attire, everyday fashion, & accessories.
Batakari is handwoven mostly by women in Northern Ghana, an area that has been economically disadvantaged as compared to the rest of the country. When you purchase Batakari, you help provide jobs in local communities.
Cotton, silk, polyester, and/or radiant threads are used in weaving Batakari, and it is woven on a range of looms, ranging from narrow to broad. We offer various colors, lengths, and textures of Batakari to accommodate different project needs!