Press release: The Politics of Fabric and Fashion in Africa, 1960-Today

Journalists sitting and writing in notepads

Renaissance and re-valorisation of African textile traditions and fashions after independence

Looks at contemporary fashion creatives exploring decolonisation

Embargo: 20 Oct, 7pm

I would like to invite you to a hybrid Gresham lecture on Thursday 20th October by Dr Christine Checinska, Lead Curator of ‘Africa Fashion’ at the V&A, on The Politics of Fabric and Fashion in Africa. This is a free, public lecture.

In her lecture, Checinska will describe the “creative self-expression” through fashion and fabric, that resisted racial discrimination and flourished post-Independence, “During decades of colonial rule, African people and their creative expressions were represented as subhuman, something other than civilized, by the European colonizing forces.”

She will tell the story of how African print cloth, Ankara, or Dutch wax, fashionable in West Africa since the late 19th century is “inextricably linked to Empire-building and colonisation by Europeans.”

“In 1846 when factory-produced imitation batik failed to sell in the Dutch East indies (Indonesia) because of the crackle effect, it was marketed in West Africa instead where, over time, print cloth received cultural resignification.

"The crackle effect, seen as an imperfection by Indonesians was seen as a desirable feature by West Africans as it made each cloth unique. By the late 1800s, European manufacturers actively sought out local tastes, often working alongside women traders, to maximise the market potential of print cloth.”

The lecture goes on to look at African textile traditions beyond print cloth, alongside contemporary fashion creatives who use their work to explore place, identity and history.


Notes for Editors

Read more about Dr Christine Checinska 

Find out more about the V&A’s Africa Fashion Exhibition.

You can sign up to watch the lecture online or in person, or email Lucia Graves for a press seat; we can also send over an embargoed transcript/ put you in touch with Dr Checinska. Lucia Graves, Head of Communications (PR & Media): / 07799 738 439