The Ankara Story

The Ankara Story

We hear traces of African creativity in the stories we hear, in  the music we listen to and in the art we see. That art is often translated into fashion. You’ll recognize Ankara patterns by their vivid, contrasting colors, bold shapes and unique styles designed to catch the eye. Historically, African peoples have used these designs to associate themselves with one another, commissioning specific patterns for special occasions, such as marriages, birthdays and funerals. They also act as symbols of unity, peace and solidarity among ethnic groups.  

I asked where the inspiration for such beautiful designs comes from. “You never see designs with just color,” says English professor and traditional West African Storyteller, Raouf Mama. “Nature is a big source of inspiration for our artists.” Traditionally, Ankara cloth or “African Wax Cloths” were designed by hand.The artist would draw designs in wax and allow it to dry. Once it was set, color was added to the spaces  between the wax. This was repeated several times until the artist was satisfied and a new, unique pattern was complete. 

There is a rich history behind the Ankara  patterns and that’s why HBCU Leggings is proud to announce the launch of  the brand new Ankara Set (Howard Racer) designed by founder, Amina Hammond. Now you can rep this new, bold, unique hoodie and legging set, created specifically with Howard Bison in mind just in time for Homecoming. Find it here, at


Bibi Mama is a first generation Beninese-American actress born and raised in Mansfield, CT. Growing up she watched her father, an English professor and author, continue the Yoruba oral tradition through storytelling, which inspired her. She earned her B.F.A. from Howard University and recently finished her MFA at the Old Globe/University of San Diego MFA Graduate Acting Program.
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