African Fabrics: Shwe Shwe


Shwe Shwe is an african fabric printed with geometric patterns, dyed with indigo and 100% cotton from South Africa.The word “shwe shwe” comes from the sound the skirts made of shwe shwe make when a woman walks.

Shwe Shwe is a blue cloth that originally came from Europe but the cloth was imported from India. This cloth emerges in a seaport at the Cape of Good Hope after 1652 and the color of the cloth come from a natural indigo dye obtained from the Leguminous Genius, Indigofera plant. The production of Shwe Swhe Indigo Discharge Printed Fabrics in South Africa started in 1982 when Tootal (Uk based company) invested in Da Gama Textiles.

At present, the original Shwe Shwe fabric is only manufactured with synthetic dye by Da Gama Textiles. Da Gama own the sole rights to own and print of the fabric. New colors have been introduced in the Shwe Shwe range like rich chocolate brown and vibrant red.

You can recognize an original Shwe Shwe by the stamp of Three Cats range of designs behind the fabric and by touch. This fabric is pretty stiff when you buy it and the rigidness wear off after the first wash. This fabric is only 36 inches wide and it has to do with the production because the rollers used to print the synthetic dye on the cotton is 36 inches wide.

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