The Fascinating History of Ankara Print (African Wax Fabric)

Ankara is an African American print, popularly called Ankara in Nigeria. The print gained its popularity globally in 2010 but it’s been around for several decades. The Ankara Print was initially made by the Dutch for the textile economy, but the prints gained considerably more attention in West African nations due to its colourful prints and tribal-like patterns. Ankara is formerly called Dutch wax print by African Print Dutch Business Vlisco.


African wax print cloth also referred to as kitenge and Ankara cloth is a mass-produced, colourful, 100% cotton fabric generally used and worn to make clothes, accessories, and other goods in Africa. Ankara Print has been exported all over the world, Stella Jean’s layouts are mostly influenced by this fashion, “Duro Olowu” additionally employs the versatile print in his works, and back in Nigeria the likes of “Lisa Folawiyo” and “Lanre Da Silva Ajayi” have made African prints a massive portion of their layouts.

The cloth intended as “batik” knockoffs for Indonesians is among the most flexible fabrics across the world. Synonymous with West Africa, these print layouts come in a variety of types but they all keep a certain freshness, vibrancy, daring motifs that make them stand out each time. The now-famous print became approved in West Africa due to its daring colours, stand out prints, and daring tribal designs.

Since it comes in 100% cotton (the majority of the time) it is flexible enough to be crafted to almost any fashion; conventional or contemporary so much that it is easily the most used cloth for virtually any layout; Shirts, trousers, dresses, gowns, skirts, capes, accessories, etc. It becomes so unique when completed and therefore it is used and accepted all over the world.

Ankara’s flexibility, richness in colour, durability, elegance, and ageless charm makes it a ‘trend’ which will surpass centuries and keep catching on worldwide.

Four ways to spot a good quality Ankara print fabric.

  1. The Ankara print is adored by many and worn by all, it speaks in its vibrant colours. It’s largely associated with Africa due to its tribal-like patterns and theme.
    There are many types of Ankara Print in the marketplace. Here is a guide to help you understand what makes a fantastic quality Ankara.

    1. An authentic Ankara generally has darker colours, unlike elaborate Ankara prints that are a shade lighter. This is only because Ankara prints are created via an undercover wax-resist dyeing technique named BATIK. 
    2. modern Ankara prints are produced from polyester while genuine Ankara prints are created from 100% cotton cloth.
    3. The modern Ankara print constantly has patches of the same patterns on both sides whereas authentic Ankara prints have the same prints on either side.
    4. The easiest way to spot a fake Ankara is to dip it into water and squeeze it. If the dye runs off, the print is of a poor quality and it’s a fake.

Also, the Fabric Company/Producer always indicates The type of Fabric/Product, and the registration number is printed on the selvage of the fabric, to notify people of the quality and to protect the designs from imitators.

Same patterns don’t signify precisely the same quality. If you’d like something great then you want to be aware of the difference.


African print material has many applications. Primarily, it may be worn as it is by wrapping the cloth around your body such as a towel. It may be utilized as an apron when cleaning or cooking, for carrying babies on the mother’s back, and of course for creating modern African print clothes.

It is incredibly versatile and that is the beauty of it.

So what’s Ankara? What’s an Ankara cloth?

  • Commonly known as “African prints”,” African wax prints” “Holland wax” and “Dutch wax”,
  • 100% cotton fabric with vibrant patterns
  • Made through a wax-resist dyeing technique called batik
  • It’s a very versatile fabric and many items can be made from it such as hats, earrings, blazers, and shoes to name a few
  • Though it’s connected with the African civilization, it’s roots aren’t authentically and completely African. Dutch wax prints began out as mass-produced imitations of black batik fabric.
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop