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What Makes a Traditional African Garment So Unique?


African prints

For many individuals who enjoy wearing African prints, there is a draw to not only the beautiful colors and patterns, but the history of these fabrics as well. When it comes to choosing traditional African garments to wear, you might also wonder what makes them so unique?

African textiles have a long history, with significance because they mark parts of the heritage of a continent. Some African garments were even used as historical documents. Here are three different ways that traditional African garments stand out and maintain their uniqueness throughout the world.

The Cultural Ties

For many traditional African garments, the creation of them was less about covering individuals to protect them from their environment, as it was about making a cultural statement . Many different African prints or fabrics have cultural ties and representations, reflecting the history of a specific tribe or geographical area of Africa.

Weaving is of such great importance in the African culture, as it has often been associated with human reproduction and the notion of rebirth. Colors are also significant, as they represent specific qualities and attributes.

Marks of Status or the Passage of Time

In other cases, the traditional African garment was a reflection of an individual’s status within the community. A print or pattern could be associated with a tribe’s ruling family or royalty. Some fabrics or prints may have been considered off limits to the general population, as they were reserved for those in power.

Other garments could be associated with rituals, demonstrating that an individual is moving from one stage of life to another. A young boy may complete a ritual related to coming of age that acknowledged his movement from a child to a man of the tribe or community.

Another example of this is the dress of married and unmarried women. A young girl who is unmarried would only wear a skirt or apron, while a married woman would wear full body wraps and cloaks, showing how they were valued by their husband or owner.

Preserving African Culture Through Prints and Fabrics

Genuine African garments often use 100% cotton, although the prints themselves may no longer reflect the specific tribal meanings of the past. What makes them stand out is the fact that they continue to use bold colors and patterns, which are often associated with African culture in the fashion world.

African prints and fabrics are now available for purchase and can be crafted into garments reflecting traditional African garments. However, individuals are also embracing the uniqueness of these prints and making them part of a variety of aspects of their wardrobes.

Perhaps you want to capture some of these unique aspects in your own fashion choices. Using an African print or fabric as an accessory, headwrap, or a staple piece in your wardrobe is one way to do so. At AKN Fabrics and Textiles, we offer a variety of options, including ready made pieces that will allow you to express your unique style with these unique representations of an amazing and rich history and cultural significance. Contact us today to learn more about the options available to you.

With 20 years of experience in the African fabrics market, AKN Fabrics guarantees you the best product, selection, price and overall service. We are specialists in the finest fabrics from Holland, London, African Gambia, West Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, and India. We specialize in Jacquards, hand embroidery, silks, seersuckers, cottons, quilting fabrics various other West African fabrics.


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