Maasai shuka: traditional kenyan fabric

Maasai shuka: traditional kenyan fabric

What is Maasai Shuka?

Maasai Shuka is a traditional fabric originating in East Africa, worn by the Maasai people, mainly from Kenya and Tanzania. Maasai Shuka is a cotton plaid fabric, in the form of a blanket, of bright red and blue colors.
The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people of East Africa who are known for their unique way of life, as well as their cultural traditions and customs. They live in the great Rift valleys in Kenya and Tanzania. They are known as great warriors who hunt food in the savannah.
For their clothing, red is the most common color. But, the Masai also use the blue, the striped, to wrap their bodies. Masai men and women wear the traditional Shuka outfit. It is known to be durable, solid, and thick. This fabric protects the Masai against the time and terrain of the savanna.
 

Where does it come from?

We do not know exactly. There are several theories on the horizon. Originally, the Maasai wore leather-based animal clothing. In the 1960s, they began using commercial cotton as a means of payment following the slave trade. The natural black, red and blue dyes were obtained from Madagascar. Another explanation says that the Scottish missionaries brought it during the colonial era.
Shuka is a fabric generally made in Dar es Salaam and even in China.

Popular in fashion.

Many designers have taken inspiration from the Shuku Masai to create original, brightly colored clothes. One can quote first the Nigerian brand Blackbird Jeans who made a collection with this traditional fabric in 2011.
Then, in 2012, the famous brand Louis Vuitton created a Spring / Summer collection. Artistic director Kim Jones wanted to pay tribute to his childhood spent in Kenya.
Finally, Kenyan clothing brand Wan Fam Clothing has manufactured clothing and accessories based on Shuka fabric. They are located in Nairobi and this brand is created by brothers Jeff and Emmanuel Wanjala to pay tribute to the Maasai culture of Kenya. They transform this traditional garment into fashionable urban and chic clothing.
Jeff Wanjala explains:

 The demand for local products has actually increased. People are trying to get more African products, which means it’s a big market for local designers. »
It was one of the best sales we’ve ever had. We had launched it on a Friday and Monday, we had sold half of the collection, “said Jeff Wanjala.

The brothers Jeff and Emmanuel Wanjala sell up to 100 units a month, with bags carrying a price of $ 18 and jackets $ 29.
Designers make and transform Shuka fabrics in blankets, scarves, dresses, shorts, skirts, rugs, bedspreads, curtains, pillow covers and scarves.


Collective Closets


Wan Fam Clothing


Wan Fam Clothing


Wan Fam Clothing


Louis Vitton


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