Ankara -Oke is a UK based company started in October 2019 by Catherine Adeyemi Eluwa. Catherine is a mother, who has worked intermittently as an events organiser and in sales whilst her children were much younger.
Growing up in the city of Lagos in Nigeria, Catherine has always been intrigued by the richness of the African Fabrics. Catherine is fuelled by her passion for cosy aesthetics and her love for spaces that tell a story she has set up Ankara -Oke which would be producing table runners, throw pillow cushions and various other pieces that will add character to your living area.
Having lived in London for the past 25 years, Catherine loves the cosmopolitan feel of the city and believes that the infusion of culture should not nor limited to food but every aspect of our day to day lives.
History of Ankara
ALSO KNOWN AS DUTCH WAX OR AFRICAN PRINTS
The Ankara fabric also known as Dutch Wax or African prints is the most commonly used fabric in Africa especially in West Africa. They are industrially produced multi coloured cotton with batik inspired printing
The process of making the fabric was originally influenced by the Indonesian method of dying materials using wax resistant technique called batik. During the Dutch colonisation of Indonesia, the Dutch became familiar with the batik technique. The owners of the textile factories received samples of the batik material and before long developed a machine printing process that imitated batik. Though quite unsuccessful in penetrating the batik market, they experienced a good reception in West Africa when the Scottish and Dutch trading vessels started sales in these ports.
The wax prints quite quickly became integrated into African outfits and was commonly called wax Hollandais. The women used the fabric as a form of expression and communication. Over time, the prints have become more African inspired and African owned. It is now formally worn by diplomats, leaders and the wealthy population.
The Ankara fabric as it is now commonly called is used in the production of many items other than clothes because of it’s rich vibrant colours.
Aso-Oke literally means top cloth denoting the high status of the fabric and is the short form of Aso ilu Oke which is the cloth from up country. It is the traditional wear of the a Yoruba people which is the second largest tribe in Nigeria, West Africa.
The fabric is handcrafted from either the cotton plant, goat wool or raffia and dyed as required. Aso-Oke is usually worn for special occasions such as weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, birthday parties etc. The men usually have gowns (agbada) and caps(fila) made from the fabric, whilst the women have tops and wrappers( iro and buba), use it as a girdle (oja) to support babies carried on the back and more commonly these days used as head wraps (gele) and a shawl (ipele).
The three original types of aso-Oke are the beige coloured one( Sanyan) usually used for weddings and happy occasions, the navy blue one(etu) usually used for funerals and the wine coloured one (alaari)used for weddings and other celebrations, although in more recent times there are a lot more variations and colours. The beauty of the aso-Oke in our modern society is seen when it is used as aso-ebi which is the commemorative cloth used by family and friends for a designated event.