5 alternative ways to showcase African fabrics

Do you love African textiles and prints but find that your current lifestyle or the climate where you live is not suited to wearing these gorgeous bold prints all day, every day, everywhere? I hear you. I seldom have matching-shoe-and-bag owambe (flashy party) occasions to attend.


Also, living in a cold climate area where we have practically 6-7 months of winter necessitates wearing almost every other type of fabric except cotton for much of the year. The great news is that many African textiles, which are often cotton based, are incredibly versatile and there are easy ways to showcase them that do not involve clothing or footwear.


This post highlights 5 ways you can celebrate African fabrics and designs–ankara, aso oke, adire, mudcloth, or kente–any time.


1) Home Decor

African textiles are an elegant and distinctive way to add vibrant colors and patterns to your decor. Ankara or African wax fabric decorative throw pillows with bold colors can serve as powerful accents in any space (home, office, restaurant, hotel), especially one with a neutral color scheme. Hey, this is partly what led me to start Lara Threads. And with such a broad array of designs, you could easily switch your ankara pillow cover every season or whenever you feel like having a different look without going through wholesale remodeling.

Not looking for throw pillows? You could also decorate your space with African fabric curtains or small pieces of furniture, including lampshades, chairs, and stools, upholstered with African fabrics or featuring African prints.


2) Office or Hobby Wall Organizers

A wall organizer made from African fabric is a lovely way to add unique interest to an entryway, office, home office, or hobby center. And because organizers like this are so lightweight, hanging one up on the wall is a breeze.

African Batik Wall Organizer


3) Tabletop Decor

Set the table with beautiful table runners, placemats, tea towels, napkins, coasters, and serving trays made from a variety of African fabrics including adire or African batik.


If, like many people, you either don't have a dining table or you use yours for everything other than dining–no judgement!–these pieces can be placed on the kitchen counter, side table, or coffee table. I use a fabric tray like the yellow one below as my fresh fruit basket on my kitchen island.


4) Functional Accessories

What are these? Accessories that one wears and that usually have a specific function, such as hats, eyeglasses, belts, watches, and lanyards. If you must wear a lanyard to hold your ID card or badge (or face mask!), why not toss the generic rope lanyard and go bold?


You can effortlessly express your discerning taste with pops of color from an African print lanyard. Collect compliments with a collection of ankara lanyards to complement each suit, shirt, blouse, or dress in your wardrobe.


5) Lifestyle Organizers

Bags, pouches, clutches, wallets—these are all brilliant ways to carry a small display of African print while on the go. Handbags have been crafted in almost every style and with a broad array of fabrics.


A simple, stylish ankara zipper pouch is perfect for keeping a larger bag organized, corralling those small items that tend to migrate to the dark corners of a desk drawer, handbag, or glove compartment, or if you want to take just a few things with you as you go about your day. And since a fabric pouch like this is washable, you will be able to get it clean in case of mishap like, oh I dunno, coffee spilling in your handbag (ask me how I know).


The luxurious thicker textile called aso òkè, which translates to “cloth from the up-country," makes a great fabric for something that gets heavy use like a wallet and will definitely show off your discerning taste.


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