What is African Lace?
Africans are noted for their rich taste in colourful designs with different lace material. These ‘laces’ are made with delicate fabric and very rich embroidery. African lace is very different to lace referred to in the Europe and the USA. Lace worn in African traditional designs demonstrates the African heritage. The highest quality fabric is known as voile lace. These are made of ground base fabrics stitched yarns that make up the design.
The ground base is usually 100% cotton or polyester. The lace fabric itself is light, rich and made from the thinnest cotton in the world, using the best cotton fibres.
The special finish on the fabric ensures that it does not shrink or loose its colour. You have to be careful when purchasing lace as counterfeit copies are made with lower grade fabric and this does shrink and loose both colour and shape.
How is African Lace worn?
African lace is very common in West Africa. In the 20th century African laces were specially made for only the aristocrat, Kings and Queens. Today anyone can wear it and customise it to suit their own taste and style for both male and female. It is commonly worn as traditional African attire with the women’s traditional Buba (Top) and Iro (Wrapper) and Head tie and sometimes Ipele (Shawl or shoulder scarf) is used with it. Traditionally the head tie and Ipele can be made from Aso-oke, Damask or just the African head tie (Gele) which is made from a specially treated polyester material which is usually quite stiff and gives traditional head tie look. There are softer head ties like net head ties which we supply in the store.
Although lace is the main material used for the Iro and Buba traditional style. West Africans can use other fabric to create the same look. For example, cupion, Lace organza French lace and velvet material has now even become quite common to create the traditional Iro & Buba look.
A woman typically needs 5 yards of material to create the complete traditional African attire. 2 yards for the Buba (Top) 3 yards for the Iro (wrapper) and head scarf.
Men need 5 yards for the dashiki Top and Trouser and hat. Another 5 yards is used for the complete Agbada set. So men usually need 10 yards of material for the complete look.
Please contact us if you would like a customized aso-oke design or for general information.
Take a look at our range of traditional African Clothing in our online store
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