African Ankara textiles have claimed a significant role in Africa’s fashion world. The influence of the unique, printed patterns has spread to modern, casual fashions and the way Africans create looks all over the globe.
From what the casual fashion trend-setter wears on the streets to even high-end designers using African Ankara fabrics, their textures and prints honour Africa worldwide.
The design of African prints is often misunderstood. Many people believe they originated in Africa or think they are African designs. In this post, we dispel such myths by looking at the true origins of the designs while providing other interesting facts and figures about this popular fabric.
1. Ankara is Not Originally from Africa
Ankara fabric has a tribal, almost African design, so we make Ankara clothing in Africa. However, the fabric was not designed by African people. It actually comes from Europe. The Dutch make Ankara fabric for African people, but for another reason: when Dutch manufacturers tried to sell the material to Indonesians, the Indonesian market did not like it.
Batik is an Indonesian method of making printed and dyed cloth, but the Europeans wanted to sell Ankara fabric to Africans. The Africans liked it, and Ankara clothing has become very popular.
Ankara writing cloth is also attributed to the fact that it was brought to Africa as a gift by West African men who had enlisted in Dutch colonial armies in the 19th century. As more black people returned home to Africa after World War II, they brought Ankara prints that reflected African culture. But Ankara is actually European.
2. Most Ankara Textiles Are Not Manufactured in Africa
The popularity of Ankara fabric has grown, leading it to be made into clothing like bathing suits and leggings, and even socks. The fabric has become synonymous with African culture, even though most Ankara fabric is actually made in Asia.
Most of the Ankara fabrics found in African markets are imported from China, but smaller percentages are manufactured in West Africa. The Ankara fabrics manufactured in China are relatively cheaper than those made in West Africa. While many people like the European-made Ankara fabric, most West Africans still prefer the ones imported from China.
3. Different Ankara Textiles Carry Different Meanings
Ankara textiles are an African tradition that originated centuries ago. Today, these textiles are a part of different African cultures. They are worn for special occasions, like religious ceremonies, weddings, and festivals. Ankara textiles have been around for thousands of years, and in that time, they have evolved into multiple different designs. In Africa, Ankara textiles give off a status—they influence the way you are treated by society.
Ankara fabric is worn on special occasions by family members, close friends, and relatives in Nigeria. Various patterns have different meanings and often symbolise proverbs. In the face of infidelity, the Coure Blesse pattern from Togo symbolises a woman’s broken heart. Cha cha cha from Ghana depicts the rhythm of a musical cadence and stands for change.
Buying Ankara Clothing in the UK
Ankara fabric is like African culture—one has evolved with the other. The fabric is worn on special occasions, it is the focal point of African culture, and it is cherished because it is the fabric that binds African culture together.
Nkiti African Clothing is a UK-based clothing designer specialising in designing casual African wear. Our vision is to create modern, high-quality clothing that pays homage to our rich African ancestry. So, if you're looking to buy Ankara clothing in the UK, we've got you covered! Browse our collection now!