In cities and villages all across sub-Saharan Africa, crowded marketplaces come to life as people arrive to buy, sell, and socialize. The bustle of these marketplaces is reflected in the vibrant colors and patterns worn by all. Africans are world-renowned for their incredibly expressive dress.

In a world that is anything but “pret-a-porter,” a staple at any market is a stand selling fabric. Sold in meter-long swaths, these colorful, batik-inspired wax-printed cloths are bought and stored for special occasions, or brought to tailors to transform into anything from traditional women’s dresses, to children’s shirts, to Western men’s suits.

Clothing is a personal expression, and the culture of wax-print clothing takes that to new levels. Wax patterns have meanings. Wearing a garment made from a cloth featuring a particular image often sends a particular message. Across the region, the same patterns – often recognizable and informally named after people and proverbs – will turn up in markets over and over again. Often, hosts of large celebrations like weddings and funerals select specific patterns to represent the occasion, and all attendees are encouraged to seek it out ahead of time and come dressed to match.

Stop in to One World Goods to check out these mirrors we’ve received from Ghana that re-purpose the distinctive pan-African fabric into funky home décor, connecting your home to the whole world.