Marrakech, Morocco — Introducing our one-of-a-kind Aso-Oke Kimono Jacket collection handmade at our Marrakech atelier. Shop the collection below and read on to learn a brief history of Aso-Oke in West Africa and why this is a high status, luxury fabric.
Brief History of Aso-Oke
Introduced in the 15th century to Yorubaland, a cultural region and homeland to the Yoruba people in West Africa -- spanning Nigeria, Togo, and Benin. Aso-Oke, pronounced "ah-SHAW-okay", is a hand-woven cloth created by the Yoruba people. The "top cloth" fabric is prestigious and traditionally worn by men and women:
"Yoruba fashion and garment culture – which is awash with styles such as four-piece female of iro (wrapper), buba (blouse) and ipele (shawl) with the gele accessory (headgear) as well as the male agbada (robe), buba and, dansiki (baggy shirts), sokoto (trouser) and fila (cap accessory)." - Patrick Enaholo/David Assam
Aso-Oke, which means 'cloth from the hinterland', is made from cotton. Seed extraction is indigenously done by hand and is a hand-process from start-to-finish completed at different stages by women, children, and men. After a demanding manual process of harvesting (planting, weeding, and thinning) the cotton seeds, they are then hand-pressed, spun, sorted, and pulled, and then the threads are handwoven together on various horizontal (by men) and vertical looms (by women). In a highly calculated process, the weaver pre-determines the patterns and colors with the final creation in mind. Each Aso-Oke is a one-of-a-kind creation.
Photo of Hand-Pressing Cotton Seeds by Christopher Udoh/ David Assam.
Weaving Aso-Oke threads is a process that takes about 2-4 hours. Photo by Christopher Udoh/ David Assam.
Garments made from Aso-Oke fabric are traditionally worn for special occasions, including weddings, funerals, and holidays, befitting to Aso-Oke's English translation: "Top Cloth"; denoting the cloth of high status. While Aso-Oke has evolved to fit contemporary and modern fashion, its intricate process and quality finish is timeless and still deeply rooted in Yoruba tradition.
Res Ipsa & Aso-Oke
Our Aso-Oke Kimono Jacket design pays tribute to both West African & Japanese culture. Each Aso-Oke kimono is one-of-a-kind and handmade at our Marrakech atelier.