How To Spot A Fake: Spotting the difference between cheap and quality African Wax Print Fabric

How To Spot A Fake: Spotting the difference between cheap and quality African Wax Print Fabric

African print fabrics have long been symbols of high quality fashion throughout the African continent. Many of the stunning patterns have meaning and expression and are used as a method of communication.

Traditionally influenced by Indonesian Batik, which is cloth-dying using wax-resist techniques, African print fabrics – otherwise known as Ankara (nothing to do with the capital of Turkey though!) -  are produced using the Dutch wax-resist method.  Wax is used to stop the dye reaching the entire fabric, so that the gorgeous, striking patterns are created.

Of course, it doesn’t take long for something of such quality and beauty to catch the eye of the rest of the world.

And, as we all know, when something appeals to a mass market, cut-cost copies – using cheaper and presumably quicker methods of manufacturing - are not far behind.

These inexpensive imitations, which are made using a printing process, are known in the industry as fancy fabrics, iniwax, roller print, le fancy or le légos. These fabrics are produced for mass-consumption and are not expected to last for any length of time, as opposed to true African print fabrics which, if cared for properly, can last a lifetime.

The problem is, how do you, as a consumer, know the difference when both are bright, attractive looking prints?

It’s definitely an issue and it’s easy to see why younger consumers are taken in by the colour palette and, more specifically, the price tag of imitation fabrics.

But if you are on the look-out for the real thing – true African print fabrics that you can cherish for years to come – there are things that you can look out for. 

Fancy Fabrics tend to have a more intense, deeper colour than a genuine wax print. Plus, a copy will only be printed on one side of the fabric, whereas real Ankara is usually printed on both sides of the fabric and it’s difficult to tell the inside from the out.

As African prints are produced using the wax-resist method, there are usually some slight imperfections in the dye work and pieces will be unique. Fancy fabrics, on the other hand, are more uniform in appearance and the printed patterns tend to be more precise.

Depending on the producer of wax prints, many of them – particularly those produced in Africa – may be one of a kind, whereas fancy fabrics are produced on mass for their target mass-market.

A traditional wax print will also have the manufacturer’s name, product name and design number of the edge of the fabric (the bit known as the selvage, which stops the fabric unravelling).

Let ZWBDC take you African Wax Print Fabric shopping.

So, if you are looking for a true African wax print fabric that you can enjoy for years to come keep your eyes peeled for the genuine article. As well as coming away with something unique, you’ll be helping to support African designers and manufacturers, thus having a positive impact on the economy thanks to a booming textile industry.

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July 25, 2017 by Bianca Watson
7 things you probably didn’t know about African Wax Print Fabric

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There’s no denying that African print fabrics are beautiful and eye-catching and, with increasing global acclaim, have brought the world some fantastic fashions, from clothes to accessories and soft furnishings.

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African print fabrics have received global recognition and acclaim. And it’s really no wonder: the varieties of prints and fabrics is so immense and each one is beautiful, bold and eye-catching.

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Ankara (African wax print) undergoes and intricate process where wax patterns – which stop colour reaching certain parts of the fabric - are transferred onto the fabric and colours are added bit by bit until the desired result is achieved.

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I don’t know about anyone else but I could put money on slopping something down my favourite top… I do it time and again! And if I don’t manage to spill anything myself, my toddler is guaranteed to throw something at me!

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