African Prints

Genuine African prints are generally 100% cotton. They are worn across the continent of Africa, most especially, in West Africa. Tie-Dye is generally believed to be one of the earliest forms of African print. Tie-Dye is a process of tying and dyeing clothing or fabrics (usually cotton) to give distinctive patterns. The Fabric or Clothing is tied (typically with strings) in sections to set boundaries for the dye. This in turn, yields a distinctive pattern.


There are also some other forms of Tie-Dye:

Kampala: A type of African Print Tie-Dye with a substantial amount of wax application. The fabric would appear to have a sheen at the end of production because of the wax application. Brocade (solid cotton fabric with patterns in fabric) fabrics are generally used when making Kampala designs.

Batik: Batik prints are also another form of tie dye also using wax application. The Fancy designs are hand painted (mostly applied with cassava paste, a chicken feather and a string of broom).

Indigo: Indigo dyed clothing, also known as Adire by the Yoruba tribe in Southern Nigeria.

There are several other forms of Tie Dye techniques.

With technology, African prints have evolved into more complex patterns. Several name brands have also evolved. Sunflag, Akosombo, Hollandis, Woodin are some of these African print name brands. Ankara, Abada, Kitenge, Wax print, are some other names for African Print. African prints are generally made into Tops and Wrappers in the rural areas in Africa.

There are several ways of wearing an African Print Wrapper. Typically, younger people gravitate towards the “Old School” style below when wearing an African print Wrapper.

And for Men, here is an African print Grand Boubou below. A Grand Boubou generally consists of a Dashiki, Pants and a Robe. It can be worn with a matching African print hat or a hat made out of a different material.

Below are some African print Dashiki tops and pants for Men

African prints are worn by Men, Women and Children. A whole family can also be dressed in the same print.

Matching African print skirts and tops are usually lined with a 100% cotton material. Many African print dresses are lined as well. Matching African print tops and wrappers (excluding Senegal and a few other African countries), Men’s African Print matching sets and children African print sets are generally not lined. African prints are generally not see through. Some African print patterns have some significance. However, most of them are abstract.

Modern day prints over the past few years have been picking up steam amongst both the young and the old. This is not surprising when you take into consideration the bold and intricate print patterns. Icons, especially in the Fashion, Music, and Film industry have been spotted wearing African print clothing. African prints can be made into dresses, tops, skirts, wrappers, and sets for women. It is also common to see women wear African print head wraps with African print Clothing as well as western clothing.

For a wider selection of African print clothing for Men, Women and Children as well as African print fabrics, click here




African Wrapper (Wraps/Lapa/Iro/Kitenge)

Some types of African Wrappers at Dupsie's

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.