Shweshwe Fabrics: Traditional South African Clothing

Shweshwe fabric is so much loved and cherished and yet few ever stop to ask why people love this fabric. From seamstresses who create garments with Shweshwe fabric to people who wear these garments, few really understand how this fabric has come to be very prestigious.

Indigo cloths in South Africa dates back to the 1840s when it was first used by Sotho King. Then, it was called Shoeshoe or Isishweshwe after the king who first used it. Since its first appearance in the region, it has undergone several things that led to its present-day history.

Its method of printing is unique and different from other fabrics thus making it to stand out among African prints. The intricate designs are made using picotage, a pinning fabric printing technique rarely used by contemporary fabric manufacturers due to its complexity and expense.

collection of shweshwe fabrics

Since 1982, Da Gama Textiles in the Zwelitsha township outside King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape has been producing the original Shweshwe first worn by King Lesotho’s King Moshoeshoe. Da Gama takes great care—great attention to every drop of detail, to produce these printed dyed 100% cotton fabrics.   

Fashion designers—especially African fashion designers, seamstress: like to create designs using the Da Gama Shweshwe Three Cats brand. At Katsala Fashion, most of dresses are produced in South Africa using Shweshwe African prints.

Explore Shweshwe Apparels

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