AFRICAN TEXTILES - A BRIEF HISTORY:
While the continent has a deep and varied history of textiles production, Kitenge, the name given to textiles produced in East Africa, and Ankara, prints produced in West Africa, are two of the best known.
Traditionally woven to communicate messages or commemorate events, Kitenge and Ankara incorporate both the history of ancient civilizations and the history of colonialism. These patterns are often referred to as Dutch wax prints because Dutch colonists were the conduit between colonies in Southeast Asia (today's Indonesia), where the technique of dying fabrics with wax, batik, had been used for centuries, and their colonies in West Africa, where they sold machine-made batik replicas we now know as wax prints.
Today these prints are sold across the continent, and produced around the world. The modern story of African wax prints is a global story.
INNOVATION IN PRINT:
Both ancient and modern, and a powerful symbol of the changing tides of culture, politics, and trade, original African prints continue to provide a source of inspiration for Walls of Benin. However, in respect of the crafts people who have been making print for centuries - we do not use modern Dutch Wax interpretations - rather we apply the spirit of African print to digital methods using luxurious and ecological fabrics such as Silk and Tencel printed by us.
This leaves scope for collaboration with traditional artisanal makers of true African print textile, rather than disingenuous copies. True African print should be local and specific, like Scottish Tartan or Tweed.