Sunday, August 16, 2009

A little history on African textile fabrics

Kradle Kouture (KK) aims to be the trend setter in children clothing and accessories by offering garments that personifies individuality and creativity for the fashion-conscious mother and child. Our main focus in this clothing line is tapping into the use of African fabric. As such, I think it is only befitting to talk about or give a little history about African fabrics. With Kradle Kouture, it’s all in the fabric, literally!

Growing up in Ghana, West Africa, I recall that we were always encouraged to wear ‘kaba and slit’ – these are dresses made from genuine African fabric and designs and typically worn by most West African women or specifically, by Ghanaian women on an everyday basis. These dresses came in various ranges of different styles. See, it really didn't matter if and whether these women were going to church, a friend's house, public gathering, the market, or to some social event, it was common to see Ghanaian women or for that matter most West African women wearing their Kaba & Slit. Mind you, the word, ‘Kaba’ refers to the top half of the dress and the word ‘Slit’ is the skirt-like bottom part. In essence, for the lack of a better comparison, the 'Kaba and Slit' can be looked at as the African version of the American 'maxi' skirt and fitted top.

Picture to left: Example of Kaba & Slit

And I used to think to myself , ‘wow, I wouldn’t be caught dead in that’. I wanted to wear exactly what I had seen the kids wear in America. I would find myself watching shows like BET and MTV and day dreaming of being that kid/person walking down the fashion runways rocking my ‘cross-colored’ jeans.

It was only when I came to the United States and started modeling that I observed that some top designers like Oscar de La Renta and fashion icons like Madonna, Fergie and Solange Knowles have been seen to rock African-inspired outfits and make it their own. So, I'm thinking to myself, 'If these well-known celebrities can appreciate my culture, my tradition, my country's wealth and richness of African designs and history, I should be ashamed for underestimating the same item and taking such richness for granted. I felt sick at the thought. I had done my country and the culture and traditions it stands on WRONG!

Pix to left: Fergie in African outfit

This was my wake up call. I felt I had betrayed my roots, forgotten my culture! and I was going to do something to make up for it. African fabric & design - Such a captivating and intriguing concept! The thing that comes to mind is the rich colors, provoking patterns, and profound history behind the motifs and symbols printed on each cloth - such captivating allure!!

There is a lot of history involved in African fabrics. Each piece of fabric tells a story in its own unique way. In Africa, when we use traditional cloth/fabric, it represents wealth and culture. Typically, when we use special fabric it could be used to represent important events; to communicate with or without words; and to distinguish rank, and/or esteem as well. For instance, Ghana’s well-reknowned ceremonial fabric called the ‘KENTE’ cloth is the official cloth for royals.

"Kente is more than just a cloth. It is a visual representation of African culture: our history, our ethics, our oral literature, our moral values, our social code of conduct, our religious beliefs, our political thought and our aesthetic principles. "

Picture(s) above: Local King in Kente cloth & examples of different types of Kente cloth.

So I charge you to embark on this journey with me of exploring the richness of African fashions. I’ve come to appreciate the authenticity, creativity of African fabrics and designs. It’s truly an area that demands attention.

As a good friend of mine stated about the emergence of African fabrics and designs in the fashion world – ‘The beautifully detailed and boldly colorful fabrics from the motherland are getting their due in the world of fashion'. Some of the African fabric that Kradle Kouture will be using include, kente cloth, mud cloth, batiks, silks, brocade, tie dye, suede, woven and 100% cotton fabrics and in terms of designs, various designs ranging from African masks, figures, African Safari animals like elephants, Ghanaian adinkra symbols and other designs in vibrant colors. See some of the fabric types shown.

Kradle Kouture Fabric Selections
Just to give you a brief ‘synopsis’ of what type of radiant, beautiful authentic fabric/print that KK will be using in the construction of the kids’ garments, please see below.

To mothers - Please rest assure that most of the African fabric pieces are made of 100% cotton hence perfect for the construction of kids' clothing. The use of cotton for babies and children's clothing has become quite prevalent recently mainly because research has shown that cotton happens to not only provides air circulation hence removing body humility but it is also extremely soft against the skin and consequently the best option for making children's clothing. Most importantly, cotton is versatile, sustainable and very easy to care for.

A Note from the Designer's Seat

I would like to think that babies and children need not be left out of the fashion "hoop-la". It certainly need not be limited to just adults, and perhaps the youth, primarily because I truly believe that our babies and children fortunately or unfortunately are and will also be influenced by what they see. Consequently they need to ne able to bring out their best.
As a designer, KK will be working full time to ensure that our little ones are dressed for every occassion, in order to keep abreast with the ever changing fashion trends. Our aim here is to make sure we bring out our kids' creativity and purity of their age. We are looking into styles and designs where the kids not only look good, but can 'strut' the different 'catwalks' (their various activities) in their lifes without any hesitation and/or inhibitions.

Come, Spring '10, we will be showcasing and offering items like pants and shorts with very functional pockets; short and long-sleeved onesies and graphic tees with cute appliques, embroidery designs and/or printed pictures; tunic and sundresses; cute colorful tops; layered and/or maxi skirts and tutus and a lot more.

In terms of the colors that will be used, all I can say is that its truly going to be a plethora of beautiful, cute shades of all colors under the rainbow dependent on the season. Just to name a few - khaki, kelly green, orange, olive, fuschia (lots and lots of it! lol!), hot pink, beige, yellow and etc. These are really my favorite colors!!

So let us help your child bring out their individuality with style.....let's let our fashion 'kiddie boos and kiddie babs' hit the runways strutting!

Talk with you soon KK Bloggers!

Fellow KK Bloggers, please don't forget to give me your comments and feedback for every blog article posted. I will sincerely appreciate it. Constructive comments only! (lol)

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