Print fabrics are some of the most moving and inspiring materials that you can use to create clothing items. Prints always make a big statement and having the right print in your closet can elevate your wardrobe from boring to exciting and unique. If you want to have access to quality prints that make a significant and beautiful statement, you need to consider African textile prints.
African print fabrics have a rich history. These fabrics were some of the first printed fabrics that were imported by the Dutch when they colonized Indonesia. They were an immediate sensation and have not become any less popular since. These fabrics told a cultural story and were originally made for ceremonial use and for special occasions like weddings, funerals, and births.
If you are ready to learn more about these beautiful prints and what they can do for your wardrobe or home décor needs, you need to read on!
What Are African Print Textiles?
African print fabrics, also known as Dutch wax prints, are a common and very popular clothing fabric in West Africa. These were some of the first industrial production fabrics that were used to make clothing in the 1800s. Notable because of their unique and colorful patterns and the intensity of the colors used to make them, these prints have remained immensely popular ever since they were first introduced to the Dutch through trading.
African textile fabrics can be used for so many different needs, and these textiles are strong enough to do more than serve as African fashion pieces. This is a fabric that was often used for ceremonial purposes and then used later to carry children or as an apron. There is so much history wrapped up in the wearing and use of African textiles that it is hard to separate the textiles from the emotions and cultural meanings behind them.
These fabrics are sold in 12-yard lengths and also in 6-yard half pieces. The colors and patterns in these textiles were actually originally made for festival or celebration use by the locals who crafted them, but they are also worn as novelty clothing in other parts of the world. From the beginning, African print textiles have carried the silent messages of African women out into the world as a whole. Each print is named after a personality, a building, a location, or anything else that matters personally to the woman who crafted it. Wearing these prints is like wearing a message in a bottle that is important for the world to hear.
Significance of African Print Textiles
There are many reasons that these fabrics are so special. As mentioned before, the unique nature of each yard of these textiles and the bond with its creator makes these fabrics impossible to replicate using other means. The hearts, souls, and passions of the African women who make these fabrics are preserved in the textiles, and they become a message that is delivered to the entire world as a whole when these products leave Africa.
Beyond the social and personalized nature of African print textiles creation, this is also one of the most critical and central products made in Africa. Ghana textile companies alone produce about 30 million yards of these fabrics a year. This is one of the central economic pillars that the African economy is based upon, and without the efforts of the African women who make these products, there would be far less money flowing into the African economy.
African fashion is not the same kind of fashion that we think of when the word is mentioned in other countries. These fabrics were created to convey messages, honor customs, commemorate festivals and important events, and for day-to-day use. Few fabrics are this versatile and that are so connected with the heart and soul of a country and its people.
Types of African Print Textiles
African textiles as a whole have a similar story to the process behind Kente cloth origins. The Akan ethnic group makes Kente cloth from Ghana. This was a print that was only made for special social occasions, and it is a basket-style design full of bright colors. The name of the print even means basket, and it is intended to appear like hand-woven baskets.
Other print styles are also specific to the ethnic groups who make them. The Ewe Kente in Ghana and Togo make a print that is created using horizontal loom weaving methods. They also create their textiles with inclusions of silk and rayon that give them more movement than some other African prints. This fabric was not limited to royalty, and it was created to represent proverbs and other messages central to the tribe’s social fabric.
Nigerian Aso Oke is one of the most prestigious cloth options that is made in Africa. This hand-woven textile is only made by expert weavers belonging to the Yoruba ethnic group. Nigerian Aso Oke fabric uses hand-spun thread and a dying process to create its unique deep blue coloration. This is a labor-intensive product that is only used for ceremonies by the tribe that creates it. Some bolts of fabric include embroidery that is also done by hand.
How to Wear African Print Textiles
The most common way to wear these textiles is to wrap the fabric around your body like a towel. An exacting process is used to secure the fabric, and you can easily learn to do this if you want to use your African print properly. Some fabrics are also used as aprons, and mothers in Africa use these fabrics to carry their babies from place to place on their backs.
You can also have your African print textiles made into traditional clothing, bedsheets, and other items for home décor, or even things like lampshades. There are so many ways that you can use these beautiful fabrics to make your home or your wardrobe more colorful and special. This is a fabric that has been used for centuries to convey messages, reference cultural traditions, and commemorate special events.
African print textiles bring with them a sense of emotion and excitement that most other fabrics cannot. They seem to be imbued with the joy of life and living it, and you will love their bright colors and special designs. The weight and the comfort of these fabrics against your skin make them an excellent choice for clothing, but they are durable enough for many other uses as well.
African print textiles are some of the most special and beautiful fabrics available in the world today. These fabrics are made with care and attention to detail that other manufactured products are not, and the unique and individual nature of each fabric makes them special in so many ways. You can use these lovely fabrics for all kinds of purposes, and you will love their lightweight and durable performance.
The history of Africa is connected tightly with the creation of these lovely fabrics, and now that you know more about the way that these fabrics are bonded with African history, your fabric purchase will mean so much more. Not many other textiles are so closely bonded with important messages and cultural strength. African textiles offer you the chance to wear a story and carry it with you into the world.