• Nikita Shah

Ankara: The big bold prints

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

Big bold prints were one of the biggest trends for spring and resort 2019. From young emerging designers in Africa to Dior on the cover of Bergdorf Goodman turned to the wax-resist fabric of Nigeria: Ankara.

Street Style

The textile craft that has been patronized by the tribes of West Africa, actually goes beyond the geographic boundaries. When the Dutch colonized over Indonesia in the 16th century, they wanted to imitate the Indonesian batik to make a cheaper and mass-produced version of the hand-crafted textile. The Dutch entrepreneur Pieter Fentener Van Vlissingen mechanized the method to achieve the look of Indonesian batik but through printing. While it did not succeed within the European or Asian markets who would not defer from the craft of Batik, the Africans took the technique and made it their own.

Ankara fabric in process

Though the technique was adopted, they brought their spirits to the textile in terms of motifs, designs and colors. They narrated their own story through the textile to the world. It is believed that the women who usually did the designing used it as a form of visual communication. The Ankara fabric are both machine made and hand-made.The ones made in an industry don’t have irregularities and are cheaper, while the hand-made ones are mostly rare one of a kind.

Zuri, an African brand using Ankara fabric for the modern woman

Stella McCartney 2018

This vibrant textile has taken over the world and the communication still stays relevant from the women of West Africa from the 16th century to women today.

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