In recent times, we have witnessed the resurrection of a lot of old trends that we thought were long forgotten- one trend, in particular, has captured the hearts of Fashionistas and “Owambe” lovers all over Nigeria. Aso-Oke, the beautiful fabric now favoured by brides and party goers of all tribes has been around for centuries and has always been one of the major fabrics used for Yoruba ceremonies. Aso-Oke is a shortened form of Aso Ilu-Oke, meaning “clothes from uptown or up country”. Aso-Oke weaving started centuries back majorly in Iseyin, Ede and Okene before spreading to other Yoruba towns.
The primary material for Aso-Oke is cotton fibre and is usually locally planted by these industrious people or sourced from other states, especially northern states. Through an extremely mesmerizing process, the cotton is separated from the wool (known as spinning), separated from dirt with machines or by hand (sorting), patterning and finally the weaving. The whole process takes just a few minutes but produces absolutely stunning materials that can be used for decades, if properly maintained (I know this because the Aso-Oke my mum used for her wedding three decades ago is still beautiful).
Like other trends that were brought back into style, Aso Oke has seen a “modernisation”, with beading, sequins and, patterning and bedazzling of the material. This resurfacing of Aso- Oke has brought along a serious price hike in the overall pricing of the materials since not many people know the actual cost. If you are the adventurous type looking to learn a few things, or perhaps you are a fabric seller or enthusiast, why not take a trip to Iseyin in Oyo state, Ede in Osun state or Okene in Kogi state. In any of the mentioned towns, you are sure to find weavers still producing the fabrics the same way their predecessors did with just a few modern touches. You will also be privileged to buy the Aso-Oke fabrics at a fraction of what you normally would, or get fabrics customised to your own specifications.