African wrappers are relatively long and wide pieces of fabric wrapped around the waist or chest. Some also wrap them around the neck. They can be worn either to formal occasions or casual events. Depending on what country you are in Africa, the terminology may be different. Kitenge in kenya, Iro/Wrapper in Nigeria, Lapa in Liberia and more. African wrappers come in different fabrics. They come in:
Brocade – Brocade is a 100 % cotton fabric with patterns in the fabric. They usually come starched and have a sheen.
African Print – African Print fabrics are mostly 100% cotton. The fabrics can range from Bold designs/patterns to simple patterns. There are also several textures of African Print: Wax, Super Wax, Tie Dye, Batik and more. African print fabrics have found their way into fashion houses to make dresses, ties, pants, shirts and more. They are also often used for decor.
Aso Oke – Aso Oke, pronunced, Ah-Shaw-Okay, Aso “clothing” , Oke “Elite” Aso Oke is a jean like material. It is a hand made fabric. It is woven on a loom with both hands and feet using generally silk and Net threads. There are several other types of threads used to make Aso Oke. For instance, Damask Aso Oke is made with a mixture of several types of threads. Damask Aso Oke is commonly used at Weddings or very special events. Aso Oke Wrappers are common amongst the Yorubas, one of the major tribes in Nigeria.
Lace – is a heavily patterned (embroidered) fabric sometimes with open holes made by hand or machine. They very often have rhinestones (glittery stones) or Sequins (Glittery circular discs tied together with strings. The background of the Lace fabrics can be Voile (100% cotton, soft feel), Organza (silk like but a little more stiff), Poly-Voile (relatively rough fabric), Net and more.This fabric is common amongst Nigerians (Nigeria is a country in West Africa)
George – is a fabric with patterns in intervals. The fabric is mostly plain. This fabric is common amongst the Igbo Tribe in Nigeria.
Kente – Kente is a handwoven material. The process is very similar to the process of making Aso Oke. It is know as Nwentoma in Ghana. Kente is a popular traditional cloth made in Ghana with Silk and cotton threads. It is very common amongst the Ewe people of Ghana. Kente Cloth is worn at times of extreme importance in Ghana. Kente Print is an imitation of Kente Cloth and is much cheaper.
There are several other types of African Wrappers not mentioned in this article. However, many of the types of wrappers not listed above fall into one of the first four categories above.
African wrappers are also very often used to secure infants at the back of adults.The wrapper is tied over the back of the infant and around the chest of the adult and secured by folding the ends of the wrapper that overlaps over the chest of the adult.
African Wrappers are very common across rural areas as well as urban areas in Africa.
Click here to see some more African Wrappers
Take a look at the video below. It shows you a couple of ways on how to tie an African Wrapper.