Fashion Featured

Common Fashion Mistakes; The Use of Adire and Ankara Interchangeably

Black panther

Local African fabrics are the strongest signs of African culture, it is very common these days to find native Africans wearing outfits consisting of African fabrics and a little touch of something western. A typical example is an Ankara shirt with some pair of jeans, laced up with white converse sneakers.

He possibly is trying to pass a message or an express of his acceptance of the western culture with the sneakers and jeans, while still affirming his strong deep African roots in his locally made tops.

I tell you, you can’t discuss Africa without the mention of the cultural elements of African Fabrics.  A very vivid example could be seen in the recent marvel movie “the black panther”, it is an African super hero movie that portrays Africa at its best form, compared to other movies in recent past; no wonder it is marvels biggest hit at the box office.

You could feel the cultural elements of Africa in the movie, especially the African fabrics which seems to be our focus today. This African element could be seen vividly too in Kendrick lamar’s video “All the light song” off the black panther album.

He portrayed the African fabrics and of course the Igbo traditional cap, and a host of other examples.
We would be looking at the two commonest African fabrics that have been used interchangeably which is wrong as they both are different fabrics and origins, ladies and gents we are talking about Adire and Ankara.

We would be looking at the similarities and the differences between them

Ankara here isn’t the capital of turkey, which is a great tourist sight but we are talking about the African fabric. It is a cotton fabrics notable for its very colored patterns, these are the things that come to mind when you think Africa, these African fabrics tell very deep stories of our African tradition, our pride, our believe, and our deep rooted history.

The Ankara fabrics was made popular by African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal. The Ankara cloth was created in Indonesia. There are alot of stories about the origin of Ankara, some say Netherland and so on, but we believe it started off Indonesia.

The Indonesians made batik, slaves and mercenaries recruited from west Africa to be part of the Indonesian army took liking to batik and returned to Africa with it; the different versions made in Indonesia and Europe wasn’t really catchy and so manufacturers turned to west Africa where the market women had taken a liking for the material and made better patterns.

You can wear it with jeans trousers or pleated skirts, which you call pencil skirt. It could also be worn with sneakers as seen by jidenna, it could also be attached to hoodies, shirts or used as lapels for suits. Anyways you can’t seem to get enough of Ankara fabrics.


Adire is a traditional Yoruba hand painted clothing which patterns are made by tying and stitching with raffia or cotton thread or by using chicken feathers to paint cassava paste.

Adire is what the Indonesia refers to as batik which was improved by Africans . It is created by a dye mechanism. There are two types of Adire ONIKO & ELEKO.

The Adire ONIKO include various methods of stitching and tying;raffia was used to tie a piece of cloth and secure small piece of objects like seed sticks, leaves etc inside the folded fabrics to give patterns.

Adire ELEKO is similar to batik except it uses starch as opposed to wax as a resist method of dying a starches pattern is attached to only one side of the cloth using stencil or freehand.

Adire is a cheerful fabrics and more African than Ankara whose patterns are not exclusive to Africans alone, every pattern or line on the fabrics represents something go the designers. You could see how it is rocked by Adekunle Gold, noble igwe, the tennis sisters venus and Serena have also been spotted rocking Adire.

Adire could be made into jumpsuits, alot of innovative styles.

I think we should stop confusing Adire for Ankara, they both have different roots and history, different fabrics and origins.