What is African Wax Fabric or Ankara prints?

African wax prints, also known as Ankara and Dutch wax prints, are an essential part of the West African culture.  The fabric is commonly utilized to make clothing in Africa, especially West Africa. These fabrics are industrially produced colorful cotton cloths with batik-inspired printing. A feature of these materials is the lack of difference in the color intensity of the front and back sides

Wax prints are a type of nonverbal communication among African women, and thereby carry their messages out into the world. Some wax prints are named after personalities, cities, buildings, sayings, or occasions. The producer, name of the product, and registration number of the design is printed on the selvage, thus protecting the design and attesting to the quality of the fabric. Wax fabrics constitute capital goods for African women, and are therefore often retained based on their perceived market value.

assorted-color textiles

How is African Wax Fabric Made?

The method of producing African wax print fabric is called batik which is an ancient art form. The designs are printed onto the cloth using melted wax before dye is applied to add usually 2 or 3 colours. The crackling effect displayed on the cloth is caused by the wax-resist dyeing technique and special machinery.

What are the Benefits of Wearing African Wax Fabric?

The 100% cotton, colourful cloth keeps you cool in hot climates and warm in cold climates. The vibrant and bold Ankara fabric prints are fun to wear and make you feel good.

Wearing modern African print clothing can make you stand out in the crowd. Be unique, be different and add some colour to your life!

How do I Care for my Garments?

To help ensure the longevity of African wax fabric, women’s African print clothing we recommend that you follow these simple wash care instructions:

1) Machine on delicate cycle or hand wash with cold water with similar colours. We recommend 30 degrees or a cold wash setting if using a machine.

2) If you are washing African wax print clothing, turn the garment (s) inside out when washing in the machine

3) Use mild washing powder


How Do I Select the Right Size When Purchasing a Garment made with African Wax Fabric or Ankara Prints?

Because African wax fabrics are all 100% cotton, expect them to shrink a little after the first wash.  Therefore, we recommend that you carefully look at the size guides before purchasing your items and that you hand wash your garment (s) whenever possible. 

Do you Use the American Sizing Guide or an International Sizing Guide?

We use the American sizing guide.  Our items were created to cater to a North American clientele who are looking for innovative ways to wear Ankara.  Therefore, the decision was made to use an American sizing guide to sew our garments.

Are your Products Available in Stores?

Yes, some of our products are available in the Ottawa-Gatineau regions and in Montreal at the locations listed below.  Please note however that the following stores only carry a limited quantity of our items.  A broader selection is available online.

Epicerie African Soul Food
425 Chemin Vanier
Gatineau, QC, J9J 3H9
Phone: (819) 682-6767

Afro Diva
1315 Richmond Rd
Ottawa, ON K2B 8J7
Phone: (613) 680-0082

Espace Urbain Montreal
5926 St Hubert St
Montreal, Quebec H2S
Phone: (514) 564-5926

Through my Purchase am I Supporting a Small Business and Local Communities in West and Central Africa?

Small businesses like us play our part in supporting the African textile industry by producing high quality African Wax Print Clothing locally using original fabrics that are made to last.

The majority of fabrics used to make our garments are bought in Abuja Nigeria, Accra Ghana and Porto Novo Benin. Through your purchase, you are playing a role in supporting the local communities and small business owners in these countries.