Shweshwe is a 100% South African cotton fabric that is produced using traditional methods.
The indigo fabric “Shweshwe” (also known as “Shoeshoe” or “Isishweshwe”) is named after the legendary Basotho Chief Moshoeshe the First. In 1840, French missionaries presented Moshoeshe I with this material as a gift. The chief and his subjects developed a great fondness for this material. To date, the proud women of Basotho clothe themselves in Shweshwe for special occasions. The fabric is part of the traditional costumes of the Basotho and is carried to important ceremonies in rural areas.
Today, a British-South African Company called Da Gama Textiles, which has the sole production rights, produces “Shweshwe” in Zwelitsha in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Shweshwe is still produced in the traditional way using the so-called “Blue Print” copper-fed printing method. This exotic material has a distinctive fragrance and stiffness before the first wash. These properties are due to the traditional production process. After the first wash, the beautiful cotton fabric is soft and odorless. Recently, Shweshwe has become increasingly popular with western fashion designers.