December 13, 2017 - Clothing & Accessories

The Rise of Ankara Dresses in The UK!

Women's Purple African Print Pencil Dress Model Wearing in Tanzania

The past few years has seen a huge rise in the popularity of Ankara fashion in the UK. These bright, bold and vibrant garments are a common sight throughout the UK now, not only at summer festivals and parties, but also in workplaces and even at formal occasions.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the origins of this fashion, the wealth of different designs and give some top tips on how to wear your Ankara!

What is Ankara?

Ankara is not just the capital of Turkey but also the West African word for colourful, African print fabric. Ankara is also commonly known as ‘African print’, ‘Holland wax’, ‘Dutch wax’ and ‘Kitenge’ or ‘Chitenge’ in East Africa.


ankara designs printed in Ghana hanging on the wall at the Fashion Cities Africa exhibition at the Brighton Museum in January 2017


Ankara designs printed in Ghana, West Africa

The 100% cotton fabrics are famous for their bold and vibrant designs and are associated with Africa due to their tribal symbols and motifs. They are commonly used to make modern African clothing for women, men and children as well as accessories and home decor.

Ankara Fabric Designs

There are many different ankara fabric patterns in the market place today with new creations added regularly. Each unique design commonly represents the African country where it was made.

For example, many of our African customers can tell straight away by looking at the patterns and colours of our original fabrics that they are printed in Nigeria.

Examples of designs printed in Ghana:


Zing African print fabric design from Ghana


The ‘Zing’ design


Big Bang African wax print fabric design made in Ghana


The ‘Big Bang’ design


Bonsu ankara fabric design printed in Ghana


The ‘Bonsu’ design


Feather ankara fabric design printed in Ghana


The ‘Feather’ design


Record disc ankara fabric design


The ‘record disc’ design

Ankara Fashion

Ankara fashion is fun, comfortable and stylish to wear and can often make you feel good! For some, our African print skirts can help brighten up a dull office on a depressingly wet, winters day or even get you noticed during a job interview. We love to hear where you wear yours.

Why not surprise your mates at a social event by wearing one of our fabulous African style shirts? Or even wear one on the plane to get yourself in the holiday spirit like these guys did during their trip to Rwanda to visit the mountain gorillas!


Kitenge customers wearing their African style shirts at Victorious music festival 2017 in Portsmouth UK


Happy Kitenge customers modelling their African print shirts at Victorious Festival

African print clothing is perfect travel wear for cruises and beach holidays, as the 100% cotton will keep you nice and cool. They can also help you stand out in the crowd at music festivals or even a family do! Whatever takes your fancy.

How to wear Ankara Dresses

What is great about wearing ankara is how versatile the clothing can be. They are so easy to wear both casually and at formal occasions throughout the year so you will certainly get your monies worth.

For example, our popular knee-length, African print dresses can easily be worn to work with a plain coloured cardigan, tights and smart shoes, to a party or wedding with a matching clutch bag and bold statement jewellery such as a gold African beaded bracelet or black beaded necklace.


Kitenge Founder Sian wearing an ankara pencil dress on our stall at Africa Fashion Week London


Kitenge Store’s Ankara Pencil Dress worn by our Founder, Sian, on our stand at Africa Fashion Week London with matching gold heels & beaded jewellery

If you prefer a more casual look then you can also wear ankara dresses with (or without) leggings, trainers or sandals as demonstrated in the photographs below by our wonderful customers:


Kitenge customer modelling her ankara dress at the office


Caroline wearing her Kitenge Store sleeveless African print dress casually with sandals at her office


Kitenge customer called Nadine wearing her African print dress at Boardmasters music Festival in Newquay, UK


Nadine wearing her Dark Blue African Print Flare Dress by Kitenge Store at Boardmasters Music Festival with black tights, trainers & a matching ankara hairband


Kitenge founder Sian wearing an African print dress casually with leggings and leather beaded sandals at Looe Music Festival on the beach


Kitenge Store’s Teal African Print flare Dress worn by Sian at Looe Music Festival with leggings, sandals and a matching ankara hairband

All of our ankara dresses, in our African boutique online, were lovingly handmade by Titus and his team of talented tailors in Tanzania. Keep in touch by signing up to receive our monthly newsletters below.



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To learn more about ankara fabric including its history, hidden meanings and method of production, please visit the following articles on our blog:

The Complete Beginners’ Guide to African Wax Print Clothing

African Wax Print Clothing – The Story Behind The Fabric

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