Super Wax prints boast vibrant colours and striking, multicoloured designs that look deceptively modern. It’s a style of fabric that’s popular across much of Africa, including the Congo, the Ivory Coast, Benin, and Northern Nigeria; it’s been a traditional style for many years.
Typically, you’ll find that textiles with Super Wax prints feature their bright, bold designs on both sides of the fabric, with a deep intensity of colours on both the back and the front. This style of fabric was traditionally created using the wax relief method (also called batik), in which designs are applied with an ink repellent liquid or paste, like wax, resin or starch. Dye was then used to colour the fabric and when the wax or other ink repellent was removed, beautiful patterns were left behind.
It’s a technique that originated in Java in Indonesia and after being exported to the Gold Coast, the fabrics spread over west Africa and into central Africa. The style of these prints, also known as Dutch Wax prints, became assimilated into west African society, where they became an important part of local culture and self-expression.
For many years now, a large proportion of Super Wax prints have been made in Holland and, as imported goods, they carry a significant amount of prestige in owning and wearing them in Africa. They also command high prices, with Dutch brand Vlisco (one of the most popular) a symbol of class akin to luxury brands like Chanel or Jimmy Choo in Western culture.
High-quality Super Wax prints are made of densely woven cotton and Vlisco’s dyes are made in-house to ensure the deepest vibrancy. Natural cracking occurs throughout the colour blocks, adding interest to the designs and giving textiles a traditional feel, reflecting African pride.
Super Wax fabric is often used in garments and wrappers for celebratory occasions in African culture, but its striking style appeals to people from all walks of life; with the range of colours and prints available, there’s a design to suit everybody.