I’m not so much of a fashion enthusiast but Ankara fabrics really caught my attention this time. Ankara is also the name for the capital of Turkey and how it became a name for fabric has made me wonder too.
You probable know a few things about Ankara fabrics, don’t you? Maybe you are wearing one right now or you are thinking about entering the Ankara fabric trend for the first time, you have done a lot of research, read many websites and even asked your friends who are already big fans of the Ankara clothing material but what if I tell you that there is still so much you probably don’t know already? Don’t be too surprised.
Origin of Ankara Fabrics
Ankara fabrics have now become indigenous to Africa and are often referred to as “African wax prints” or “African prints” but they have once been called “Holland wax” or “Dutch wax” because they have been said to have been manufactured by the Dutch (Netherland or Holland) when they colonised Indonesia. The simple batik technique was used to make vibrant colour patterns over 100% cotton fabric while some parts of the fabric do not take in any colour. This is because the wax was melted and applied over those areas, thus preventing the dye from staying there.
Soon after, this traditional wax and dye batik technique was replaced by machines that can print pre-designed patterns over the fabric. Ankara fabrics soon gained significant interest in Africa, particularly West Africa because of their similarities to the local attires made from dying and even more commonly, among the women in these populations.
Today, Ankara fabrics have gained quite unprecedented recognition worldwide because of their unique beauty and the social significance they command.
Apart from being colourful and socially relevant, there are many other qualities of Ankara fabric you probably do not know about. We shall see these shortly but before that, let’s see the types of Ankara fabrics out there.
Types of Ankara Fabric
There are different types of Ankara today. Here are a few of them with picture illustrations:
Asoke is a popular type of Ankara fabric in Nigeria. It is used for special occasions like weddings and funerals. Asoke is printed with simple designs and patterns on natural or synthetic fabric material. Although they can be easily afforded by just anyone, this fabric connotes a high social class and is commonest in the Western part of Nigeria.
Kente Ankara fabric features a variety of vibrant and colourfully patterned fabrics. It is unique to the Ghanaian culture in West Africa but also common in other African countries just like other types of Ankara fabrics.
Gold prints form a major element of traditional fashion in many African countries, especially Nigeria. The materials come in various designs and patterns and they are often used as wrappers (wrapped around the waist instead of sewed into a complete skirt or trousers) but they can also be fashioned into a full Ankara top and trousers/skirts.
Wax print is the original Dutch print, sometimes referred to as Hollandis or Holand wax from which most other Ankara styles originated. It is the most popular among African countries and has become indigenous to many countries including Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, etc. This fabric can be sewn into different clothes patterns and can be used for special occasions like weddings/marriages, funerals, birthdays, etc.
Dashiki is a tunic worn by Africans and Black Americans. It originated from West Africa (Nigeria) from where it derives its name “dan ciki” meaning “Shirt”. In the late 1960s, Dashiki emerged in the US market where it was worn as a sign of Black pride, uniting the Black community in America.
Today, Dashiki is one of the most classy Ankara styles worn by both young and old and can be used for a variety of occasions as well.
Best Qualities of Ankara Fabric You Should Know
The peculiarities of Ankara does not end with their specially printed patterns but also include the multipurpose use of the material. Here are some important qualities of Ankara you probably didn’t know.
They make you African
They are truly multipurpose
They add to your self-worth
They make a huge market potential
They are cheap and affordable
They can be used to recycle old products
They Make You African
Beyonce claiming her African heritage with Ankara
Nowadays, there are not enough symbols to show that someone identifies with being African. To make things even worse, many of the African cultural relics like beads, etc, are gradually fading away from the African cultures and fashion either due to evolution in culture and art or through the domination of Western Culture in these areas.
Ankara fabric and the host of products that can be derived from them remains an important symbol of African strength and unity and if you want to identify as an African, even if you are naturally not, it’s as easy as getting yourself a piece of Ankara fabric and making cloth out of it.
They Are Truly Multipurpose
When you think of anything that is truly multipurpose, you should first consider Ankara fabrics. They can be used for any product ranging from skirts, blouses, gowns, bags, caps, rings, shoes, any idea goes with Ankara.
Here are some products that can be made from Ankara fabrics;
Ankara baby dolls (Photo credit: blackpantherstrong.com, Pinterest)
Ankara slippers (Photo credit: buyandslay.com, Pinterest)
They Add to Your Self-worth
One way you can wear Ankara fabric is by using the same Ankara to make everything on you from head to toe. An Ankara cap or hat over your head, an Ankara necklace, shirt, skirt/trousers and shoes. Alternatively, you can combine an Ankara fabric material with any other material or fabric as long as the colours are harmonious together.
In any way they are worn, Ankara fabrics give you a sense of self-worth, it increases your social class when worn to the appropriate occasion and they have a natural, organic feel.
They Make a Huge Market Potential
If you are someone who sees beyond the very act of consuming, that is, if you are interested in the business aspect of things, then Ankara offers a huge potential for a sustainable and profitable business. Many men and women across Africa make a good living selling Ankara products. Their multipurpose nature makes them even more marketable.
As a creator or fashion designer, you can get a little more creative using Ankara fabric materials in ways you never could expect. Apart from benefiting from your Ankara crafts financially, making Ankara products also gives you a sense of self-worth and self-fulfilment that you can manipulate colours, fabrics in unique patterns of bags, shoes and jewellery. This is the satisfaction derived from being creative.
The rising demand for Ankara products also makes them a lucrative business opportunity for business persons.
They are Cheap and Affordable
Though Ankara fabric requires a lot of effort to make them from manufacturing the fabric to sewing them into clothing and other products, they are relatively cheap and affordable. If you ever thought they were very expensive, you were wrong. You should do well to check out the market prices for specific Ankara products again.
They can be used to Recycle Old Products
Do you have old shoes or worn out bags made from any other materials? What if I tell you that those products can be remodelled into new amazing looks? If you can find the right shoe producer or a seamstress who knows how to manipulate Ankara into your shoes, bags or clothes, you can refurbish just any old item to give them a new breath-taking look.
The fact that Ankara fabrics do not discriminate products they can be used for makes them very useful in refurbishing just any product, shoes, bags, wallets, jotters and notebooks, hats, caps, etc, thus saving you the cost of buying brand new items while giving you yet a great design.
Ankara fabric materials stand out in just any way imaginable. They are classy, beautiful and multipurpose. Their numerous interesting qualities should be good enough reasons for you to consider trying out Ankara products sometimes.
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