Empowering Tastemakers

Ankara: A Brief History of African Prints

At the mention of the word Ankara, our minds are immediately drawn to the African prints fabric. Keep in mind that Ankara is also the capital of the country Turkey, so the name is not restricted to the fabric alone. Ankara fabric was not originally created in Africa, but in history today, it has made a name for itself in Africa.

Brief History

The first ankara fabric was said to have been made in Indonesia and Europe by the Dutch. The designs were not appealing to the people so the manufacturers decided to try out their market in West Africa in the 19th century.
In West Africa, women did not hesitate to accept this design. Subsequently, new designs were created. These designs have been affiliated with African lifestyle, tribal marks and their culture, this is why people often think the ankara was originated in Africa. It has been widely accepted by the people of Africa and it has been used in making outfits that can be worn to any occasion.


This fabric is flexible as it can be used in making clothes, jewelleries, bags, shoes etc.
From weddings, casual wears and burials to official wears, Ankara fabric can be beautifully tailored for any occasion. For example, at weddings, a particular ankara fabric can be chosen to be worn by many by attendees, this is called Aso Ebi.
Ankara, like Africans do not just have one name they are called. So ‘ankara’ can also be called Holland Wax, Dutch Wax, African Wax Prints and African Prints.


Check out some of the many ways the Ankara fabric has been used in fashion:


Comments (1):

  1. Rhonda Benton

    October 7, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I’m enlightened.


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