Journal

A Textile Story: The Joy of African Wax Print Fabric

A Textile Story: The Joy of African Wax Print Fabric

Anakara African Wax Fabric details

African textiles are in a league of their own!

From the vibrant colours to the unique and diverse prints and fabrics, it is fair to say that Africa houses some of the boldest textiles in the world.

African wax print fabric is a 100% cotton fabric most popular in West African countries, including. Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Distinct in colours and prints, it is most commonly known as Ankara or Kitenge fabric. 

 

African Wax Textile Details


All wax print fabrics were traditionally printed in 6 yard pieces (5.5 metres). At Ulo, we currently stock a variety of traditional fabrics printed in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania. We also stock a range of localised branded textiles, and we are continuously searching for the best quality African wax print fabric on the market.

Ulo African Wax fabrics detail


The Origins of Ankara Fabric

Interestingly, African wax textiles originated from the Dutch which makes for a very interesting history. When the Dutch colonised modern day Indonesia in the 19th century, they sought to profit from the recreation of traditional batik fabrics that were part of the Javanese culture.

They attempted to replicate the fabric, mass produce the textiles in the Netherlands, and then ship back to the Java population, but there was no such demand.

The textiles did, however, find popularity in Africa, in particular, West Africa. The exuberant colours and outlandish prints created great appeal, and so it is said that the West African people assumed the textiles as their own.

As industrialisation grew and West African colonies started to gain independence from Europe, local design and production proudly commenced on African soil. Unfortunately, these days the number of manufacturers in Africa is slowly reducing due to inferior replicates and changing economic and political forces.

 

Why I Love African Wax Print Fabric

Growing up in Nigeria, Ankara fabric is all that I really knew. Surrounded by the colours, vibrancy and utter joy, African wax print fabric was a staple during my childhood. I wore it as a child, and it features in the local markets near my family home in Lagos, at family gatherings I often thought my aunts and uncles took great joy in competing for the loudest and boldest outfits. 

My love for African wax print fabric grew as we moved to London where it very much continued to be a staple in my family home. Now I find myself in Melbourne, many miles from Nigeria, the place I call home, but my love and passion for African textiles is still at the forefront of my life, especially since launching Ulo a few years ago.

– African wax print fabric are bold, versatile, unique, and timeless. 
They encourage originality and ignites a sense of pride.

What more could you want in life?! I hope that you enjoy injecting some of these fabrics into your home and lifestyle – whether it be through our clothing, home accessories or textile projects (more on that soon).