Clothes, patterns and evocative prints had always held meaning for Mozambican entrepreneur Wacy Zacarias. From the Capulanas that were passed down to her from her grandmother to her memories of older women draped in customary garb, textiles were a way to assert individuality while paying homage to age-old tradition. But one realisation would change the way Zacarias interacted with African textiles and set her on a path to change the game in her home country and on the continent.
“I ended up figuring out that African textiles, in fact, were not really African. They were textiles that were brought to Africa via trade,” she says. “Some of them were an imitation of textiles that existed in West Africa. So they were like the mass-made answer to handmade textiles in West Africa. There are some batik elements in some of them but mostly they were produced in China or actually Holland.”