Textile Talk: The History Behind Spring’s 4 Must-Have Tribal Prints

According to the runways, tribal prints are spring’s new floral. So, since these eye-catching designs are set to take over our closets in just a couple of months, let’s look back to where the most popular ones originated.

Must-Have Prints for Spring


Aloha Print
Shockingly enough, it was actually WWII veterans, not honeymooners, who made Hawaii’s Aloha print so popular. When soldiers came back from being stationed in the sunny destination, they brought printed shirts with them as keepsakes. By the time Hawaii was made a state in 1959, Aloha-print shirts, as they became known, were a must-have souvenir.

Shibori Print
Shibori isn’t actually a print, but a specialized type of tie-dye. The technique, developed in Japan, dates back to the 8th century. The process involves twisting and tying the cloth in an irregular way to produce organic patterns. The bound fabric is then dipped into a (traditionally blue) pigment. Master Shibori artists are able to create such detailed patterns that they’re often confused with premeditated prints.

Dutch Wax Print
Although its name may lead you to believe otherwise, the Dutch wax print originated in Africa. It gained global notoriety, however, when the Dutch East India Company brought it to the Netherlands in the 19th century and had colonists imitate and mass-produce the tribal style.

Ganado Pattern
When it comes to textile techniques, members of the Navajo tribe are experts. In fact, credit for the popular Ganado design is all theirs. It started when rug weaving was introduced to the Navajo in the late 1800s. When the tribe applied this skill to fabric construction, voilà! Wearable art was born.

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer

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February 25, 2014