Different Types of African Fabric Patterns That You Should Know Of


We all know that every day, a new fashion trend goes viral on the internet, and everyone starts following it. If you are a fashionista, you might be aware that nowadays, there has been immense popularity of African prints in the fashion industry. Celebrities like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj have also started wearing vibrant colors and fun patterns.

If you want to elevate your fashion style, tap out of your millennial phase, and dress up like Gen Z, then including African fashion in your wardrobe is the best. The African fashion is packed with some impressive patterns with the brightest and popping colors. In this article, you will learn about the different and popular African prints that are getting popular.

Most Popular African Fashion Prints Fabrics:

African fashion has been famous in the fashion industry for a very long time and has been across the globe for more than a century. However, only a few people know the origin and the history of these bright geometric patterns and colors. Hence mentioned, below is detailed information and the background stories of these fantastic and hot seller African prints.

1.   Ankara:

Woman sorting ankara fabric


Ankara is also known as the African wax print. This print is the most popular print linked with African culture deeply. Ankara has been famous in the United States since the 70s when hip-hop culture took over the world. The legends of hip-hop used to wear the Ankara print in their shows and performances, and since then, there has been no stopping its popularity.

The Ankara is also known as Kitenge or the Dutch wax print because this print is made with the process called the “Batik.” This process is very famous in the Eastern parts of India. The Ankara pattern was sold to the Indonesian market in the 19th century, showing that this African fashion culture design is ancient. Even to this date, it is as famous and is used to make many different things, such as earrings, shoes, necklaces, scarves, bags, and many other things.

2.   Kanga/Leso:


Kanga is another African print with a deep cultural, economic, and historical significance. Kanga is also called Leso, and it has been popular for more than 100 years now. Leso / Khanga pattern is the perfect mixture of red and black intricate designs that look extremely elegant. The colorful material is usually imported from the United States.

The basic design of this pattern consists of a patterned border called pindo with a central motif called mji. The print patterns are a mixture of floral and fauna prints with a mixture of other prints. The colors are very vibrant, and the saturated and bold patterns are always eye-grabbing.

3.   Kente:

Woman with Kente Turban

If you are a shawl or stole lover, then you might have seen this beautiful and intricate design of Kente. Kente originated in the Ghana province of Africa. The Kente pattern is very similar to a basket; therefore, the meaning of Kente is a basket.

Kente is a very intricate design that involves two different patterns combined into one. There are a lot of things that you can find in this Kente pattern, such as handbags, clothes, scarves, and many other things. The people who make the Kente cloth and the master of weavers are highly respected worldwide, and they are called for the convocation ceremonies because of their fantastic art.

4.   Isi-Agu:

Isi-Agu fabric with lions over black backdrop

The people of Igbo weave a rich fabric that is a combination of velvet or cotton materials in the eastern part of Nigeria. The royal people of Nigeria usually wear this fabric at weddings and special occasions.

Isi-Agu is the cloth for the respected people. The fabric is used as a pullover shirt with a long or short sleeve, according to your liking. The men of the tribe usually style it and are also typically the chiefs of the tribes. The robe is also worn with a red fez hat to show the superiority of the chief. The Isi-Agu cloth is also paired with gold buttons and a gold chain.

However, in the present, this beautiful fabric is also worn by women, and they style these beautiful African prints in many different styles for special events.

5.   Bogolan:

Mudcloth being weaved

Bogolan is another fabric in African fashion, and it is also called the Mudcloth. This unique design of the cloth was created and weaved by the Bambara tribe of Mali. The meaning of Bologan is “mad from mud”; therefore, it is also called the Mudcloth.

This fabric is very eco-friendly because this textile is made from the extract of dried plants, fruits, and even roots. Anyone can wear this beautiful fabric, and it will suit all skin types, especially sensitive ones, because it does not have any harmful chemicals in the manufacturing.

6.   Ukara-Ekpe:

Pregnant woman dressed in Ukara-ekpe

The Ukara-Ekpe is a sign of respect, and the elderly and respected women of the African tribes wear it. The Ukara-Ekpe is the combination of different symbols on the fabric that includes moons, feathers, metal rods, masks, geometric patterns, and harvests.

There are many unique and popping colors of the Ukara-Ekpe, such as red, blue, and green, and it symbolizes the different emotions in life.

7.   Barkcloth:


Barkcloth is made from the trees of the Moraceae family plants, and the tribes of Uganda generally wear these types of clothes. The barks of Broussonetia Papyrifera, Artocarpus Altilis, and Ficus Natalensis are generally used in the making of this African prints.

8.   Aso Oke:

Aso- Oke Fabric

The literal meaning of Aso Oke is top cloth, and it is produced for the elite society. The Yoruba tribe was the first one to produce this excellent material. To date, African men wear Agbada and fila using the African prints. However, with the increase in demand, there have been a few changes in this fabric, and modern manufacturers have reduced the thickness of the thread to make it more flexible. Furthermore, the prints have become more versatile by adding animals and floral motifs.

9.   Kikoy:

Woman wearing kikoy head scarf

Kikoy is an African print worn by the tribes of Kenya and Tanzania with the help of cotton yarn. Nowadays, Kikoy is a significant part of African fashion, and women wear scarves, skirts, dresses, and other things made from this. Furthermore, the Kikoy is also used in making home decorations, bedspreads, tables cloth, and other accessories.

10.   Adire:

Woman with yellow adire attire cooking

Recently it has been seen that tie and dye have been trending. The primary origin of tie and die was Africa; this African print is called Adire. The technique of indigo dyeing was developed in the Dogon kingdom, dating back to the 11th century.

Over the years, this technique is changed a lot, and the Europeans have altered it according to their lining. Still, this African print is very much in the African fashion industry.


African fashion is coming back in trend, and with demand, it is essential to know the different types of African prints available in the market. The African prints and colors are the perfect way to add a pop of color to your wardrobe and step up your fashion game.

Hence, this article is packed with all the information on African prints, their history, and the importance of these prints in the African fashion industry.