Retail Refugees

The Anti-Chain Movement Continued: Kente Cloth
September 4, 2008, 10:32 am
Filed under: Art/Design, Fashion

I saw a post from one of my favorite blogs on the Arkitip website this morning from Art Director, Scott A. Sant’ Angelo about patterns, and it seemed like a nice addition to my previous post about the anti-chain movement. He pointed out the beautiful and meaningful aspects of Kente cloth.

Kente cloth, known locally as nwentoma, is a type of fabric made of interwoven woven cloth strips and is native to the country of Ghana, where it was first developed in the 12th century.

The “kente cloth” is of the Ashanti people. It is a royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance. Kente was the cloth of kings. Over time, the use of kente became more widespread, however its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem in the Akan family and the entire country of Ghana. In Ghana, kente is made by the Ashanti people and is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means “basket.” The Asante peoples also refer to kente as nwentoma or “woven cloth.”

This is an example of a fabric, not necessarily being produced at astronomical cost by a luxury fashion house, that reaches past a level attainable by mass chains globally. There is a fine art and meaning behind each of the different patteres of Kente cloth. The following samples are some of my personal favorites (check this link for the meanings behind some samples). If anybody sees creative ways of integrating some of these cool patterns into new designs (not necessarily clothes), please leave a comment. Also, I included some shoes I saw recently on Hypebeast from Yum-Yum that have a similar, but more American Indian inspired, motif.


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