Hey Royal Fam!
Back once again with another installment of the “Daily Fashion Fix.” This week I’ve chosen to discuss one of my favorite topics … West African prints!
As African style continues to grow in mainstream popularity, I find it absolutely imperative, now more than ever, to keep the origins and history behind these textiles in the forefront of our minds … Especially as consumers of the culture.
That said? In recent years, with the rise of calling attention to cultural appropriation by fashion houses, patterns with origins from the continent have thankfully begun to achieve the praise and recognition they so rightly deserve. And yet, there’s still much work and education which needs to be done.
Perform any basic search for “African prints” online and you’ll find a plethora of images with descriptors such as: “Tribal” .. “Ethnic” .. Or my personal favorite, “African inspired.” All of these loosely worded descriptors do nothing to tell the history of the fabric or even hint at the country of origin. One prime example of this can bee seen with Ankara / wax print.”
Tied closely to the history of Batik fabric shared on the Fashion Fix some time ago, Ankara fabric also has its roots in the Netherlands and Indonesia. Briefly said, during the age of European colonization, the Dutch noticed the beauty and popularity of local Asian fabrics and attempted to copy them onto various fabrics including fashion wax.
While the dupe fabric proved not to be a welcomed addition to the fashion scene by the Asian community, as with most goods produced during the age of colonization, “Dutch wax” ultimately made it’s way to other colonies, including African colonies to the west. There it found a marketplace eager to welcome the new textile with open arms. Upon arriving to Ghana, the fabric began to be imbued with traditional patterns as well as pop culture symbols of the day. This practice is still done today, with patterns and symbols becoming increasingly popular and intricate.
For a full history on Ankara fabric and how it became one of the hallmarks of West African fashion, check out Hyperallergic’s post on “How Dutch Wax Became a Mainstay of African Fashion” or watch this informational video below from CGTN Africa.
In the end, sharing post such as these are such a passion project for me. As an African-Caribbean woman finding an online tribe who not only appreciates cultural works from the diaspora, but also champions them has been, in a word, amazing!
Looking to find your own online community? Kicksta and I have partnered up along side several powerhouse Instagramers to share 150 Tips and Tricks from Bloggers and Influencers. From health and wellness to fashion and beauty … Get tangible tips from the pros on how to find your tribe and level up your instagram feed! Hope to see you there!
Alright loves, that’s all for now. Until next time … The Journey Continues