By Ellen Arkfeld, guest blogger, who is interning with Dsenyo this summer.
We love the African wax print textiles with funky patterns and bright colors that we use in our bags. But, strangely enough, many of what we know as “African textiles” don’t come from Africa at all. In fact, the style of batik used to make them, where a pattern is painted on with wax and dyed to make a print, comes from Indonesia and was adapted by the Dutch when they colonized it. The Dutch began to sell their manufactured wax print textiles, and, unable to find a market in Indonesia, sold them in West Africa. The Indonesian technique was adapted to fit African style. Batik fabrics are made in African and imported from other countries. Today, the presence of Dutch and other foreign-made textiles is huge in Africa, and Dutch textiles often set the trends for textiles made in Africa. Should locally made textiles have more of a presence, or are textiles made in foreign countries still African because they’re popular in Africa? What do you think?
If you want to read more about the history of African textiles, check out this blog:
Here’s a link to Vlisco, the top textile producer:
Here’s a link to DaViva, another popular brand:
This article talks about the authenticity of African textiles: