I am in Ghana right now and I had the awesome opportunity to visit the manufacturing facilities of Ghana Textile Printing (GTP) in Tema. If you see how the natural 100% cotton blankets are washed, bleached, cleaned and eventually how color is being applied and the prints created – it’s just mind blowing how much detail and precision goes into it. GTP even has a section where the workers print the designs onto the fabrics via big stamps by hand.
GTP is one of only a few textile printing companies that still prints and produces on the African continent. They used to be independent but since 2010 they are owned by the Dutch Wax powerhouse Vlisco.
Biggest challenge for GTP besides dealing with increasing prices for electricity are the cheap African Print fabric copies made in China. More and more people are buying the made in China prints – because they are cheaper or because they are clueless. Many times if you go to the local market, these prints are being offered. The made in China prints – a popular brand is Hitarget – are not just cheaper but they also lack quality. And if you see the production process at GTP you won’t really consider 70 Ghana Cedis for 6 yards – which is about 16.27 USD – as expensive.
Here are the brands you will most likely come across:
Vlisco – Made in Holland; high-end, expensive and fashionable Dutch Wax. Very popular among West Africans.
Woodin – Made in Ghana; owned by Vlisco; they also sell ready-to-wear clothing.
GTP – Ghana Textile Printing – Made in Ghana; owned by Vlisco; they design some of my favorite prints.
Uniwax – Made in Ivory Coast; now owned by Vlisco
Printex – Made in Ghana – very modern designs and quite visible in Accra due to their huge roadside posters
Phoenix-Hitarget mostly referred to as Hitarget – Made in China
So if you want to buy fabrics that are Made in Africa as well as owned by Africans – you will see that there are not many options. Some people I talked to are cynics and say it doesn’t really matter if the fabric is from China as originally the prints were imported from Indonesia and Holland anyhow.
Personally I think it matters, and I try to stay away from made in China prints and support prints that are made on the African continent. Even if many of them are not owned by Africans, the companies at least still create jobs here.
From which brand do you usually purchase your fabrics? Any other popular brands I might have missed? Please comment below!