The Wax-print fabrics that seem so indispensable to West African traditional dress are mostly not from Africa.
The most coveted, the ones that set the trends, are designed and manufactured in the Netherlands.
For many travelers, armchair or otherwise, the bright colors and bold patterns of wax print fabric are a big part of Africa’s visual identity. A crowded market, full of women wrapped in dresses made from these fabrics is a very compelling sight. Wax print fabrics are especially common in West Africa. They were brought there by the Dutch, and the finest quality examples are still actually made in Holland. They are made by covering the fabric with patterns made out of wax and then dipping it into vats of dye, often indigo.
This intricate wax printing process results in unique effects that makes the fabric so outstanding. In fact, not one single centimetre of fabric is identical to the other!
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Craze Chameleon Studio, LLC