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Toute science n’est exacte que jusqu’à preuve de son contraire
African fabrics are distinguished by patterns whose details illustrate not only the emotions and customs, but also social, political, spiritual, and carnal topics that regard the African people. The colors, patterns, and materials used for a garment differ based on the subject’s age, and the circumstances under which the garment is worn, especially in the case of women. This stems from the fact that, in past times, women did not have the right of speech and thus communication could be executed through the patterns in fabric. Particularly in Western Africa, fabrics and garments are a mean of cultural expression. With this in mind, one could say that the design of African fabrics and garments is process through which there is much reflection and consideration.
Many African fabric manufacturers exist, such as CICAM in Cameroon and SOBETEX in Benin. However, for more than 170 years, the Wax label has been ubiquitous in African clothing. This label, to some’s surprise, actually originates from Holland. Conversely, Vlisco and other Chinese labels have industrialized African fabrics. Every year, these labels come forward with new fabrics, partnership with renowned African grands couturiers. However, one must be aware that these are often copies of African symbols and culture. Many designers around the world have often introduced the wax method in their creations’ fabrics. There are not limits to the diversity with which different fabrics can coexist in garments. It is sad to see most designers put aside fabrics and inspiring symbols. African fabrics have often been associated with a certain idea of folklore and lack of fitness. While this impression has persisted in people’s minds, times have changed and globalisation is now part of everyday reality.
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