African wax prints, also known as Ankara styles and Dutch wax prints
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are omnipresent and common materials for clothing in Africa, especially West Africa. They are industrially produced colorful cotton cloths with batik-inspired printing.
One feature of these materials is the lack of difference in the color intensity of the front and back sides. The wax fabric can be sorted into categories of quality due to the processes of manufacturing.
Normally, the fabrics are sold in lengths of 12 yards (11 m) as “full piece” or 6 yards (5.5 m) as “half piece”. The colors comply with local preferences of the customers. Typically, clothing for celebrations is made from this fabric.
Wax prints are a type of nonverbal communication among African women, and thereby carry their messages out into the world. Some wax prints are named after personalities, cities, buildings, sayings, or occasions. The producer, name of the product, and registration number of the design is printed on the selvage, thus protecting the design and attesting to the quality of the fabric. Wax fabrics constitute capital goods for African women. They are therefore often retained based on their perceived market value.
In Sub-Saharan Africa these textiles have an annual sales volume of 2.1 billion yards, with an average production cost of $2.6 billion and retail value of $4 billion
Ghana has an annual consumption of textiles of about 130 million yards (120 million metres). The three largest local manufacturers, Akosombo Textiles Limited (ATL), Ghana Textiles Print (GTP), and Printex, produce 30 million yards, while 100 million yards come from inexpensive smuggled Asian imports
The Vlisco Group, owner of the Vlisco, Uniwax, Woodin, and GTP brands, produced 58.8 million yards (53.8 million meters) of fabric in 2011. Net sales were €225 million, or $291.65 million. In 2014, Vlisco’s 70 million yards of fabric (about 64 million meters) were produced in the Netherlands, yielding a turnover
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