Back to our roots: Re-imagining Ghanaian Kente and Fugu
Our feature post this week is written by our very own Elorm Amankwa. With a background in Fashion on the African continent, Elorm shares her knowledge of Ghanaian handwoven textiles with us.
Fashion is like a moving trotro (local bus). There may be many stops along the way, but it usually goes back to its origin: The trotro station. In fashion, what goes around, comes around. What was loved once before, only to be ignored a few years later, eventually circulates back into the system with full force. So has the narrative been with many of Ghana's indigenous textiles.
From historically revering the authentic textiles, to the popularity of misnomered “African Print” or Ankara fabric, Ghanaians now seem to be returning to their roots of embracing local fabrics such as Batik, Kente, Fugu, Bogolan and so much more.
Where local textiles are concerned in Ghana, the handwoven ones are some of the oldest and most authentic fabrics, as they use traditional methods and carry the history and stories of our people. Two of such textiles are Fugu and Kente.
Originating from the Northern parts of Ghana, fugu is a beautiful handwoven fabric. It is woven in strips which are then sewn together to make a full cloth. Fugu cloths usually have stripes as a design pattern and are commonly used to make a traditional attire known as Batakari or Smock. Although some refer to it as Northern Kente, Fugu carries its own identity as the weaving process and patterns are different from Kente.
Kente is a typically brightly colored handwoven textile originating from the Ashanti region of Ghana. Kente cloth uses varying patterns, designs and colors to create unique designs. Like fugu, it is also woven in strips and eventually sewn together to create the cloth.
Brands such as Atto Tetteh, Boyedoe, Christie Brown and Kente Gentlemen, have incorporated kente and fugu fabric into their collections and pieces. With a lot of skill and intentionality, they blend these traditional elements with modern silhouettes and non-traditional colors to tell their own story.
Fugu fabric used in a Boyedoe piece
Kente fabric used in Atto Tetteh piece
Fugu fabric used by Kente Gentlemen
Kente fabric used by Christie Brown
Written by Elorm Amankwa