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African Prints

A children's brand made with traditional Tswana dress…

We only use beautiful soft cotton 'Shweshwe' for our Bea Bond clothing, the fabric has many cultural and historical values (as well as many names) across southern Africa; in Botswana the fabric is called 'leteitse' and forms part of the Tswana traditional dress.  Since Botswana's independence in 1966 leteise has been reserved for important occasions including official engagements and weddings when women will wear clothes tailored from the traditional indigo blue colour.  

Behind the scenes there is a lot of work that goes into each piece; before cutting and sewing the fabric needs to be washed to remove the starches and excess dyes and allow for shrinkage. We are a slow fashion brand and we hand wash our African prints to preserve water, the fabric is then folded together and hung to dry under the African sun. 

 

 

The history of this South African fabric

There are many theories about the origins of the name for shweshwe. One theory that is most common is that it was named after the 19th-century Sotho king Moshoeshoe, who was given a bolt of indigo blue fabric from French missionaries as a gift and endorsed it as a cloth of choice.

Shweshwe has its origins in a fusion of African and European histories.  It was originally dyed with indigo, which has been found throughout the African continent for centuries, but it was European textile makers who introduced the printing method making the delicate prints. The reason behind its nickname 'denim' comes from the soft fading of the indigo fabric, which is made to fade after time like a pair of blue jeans. 

At the turn of the 20th century shweshwe was produced in England the fabrics were heavily starched to protect it on the long journey by sea to Cape Town. Since 1992 shweshwe has been manufactured by DaGama Textiles at its factory in Zwelitsha, outside King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. 

The fabric is manufactured in a 90cm width fabric and printed with the original copper rollers from England. The fabrics are to this day starched to the create the authentic feel, touch and taste of Three Cats The Original Shweshwe. To further create an authentic produce every roll is back stamped with the manufacturers logo.