Shweshwe has a history going back thousands of years, with the shweshwe we know and love today making its way to SA for the first time in the early 1840s. Today, we produce shweshwe by the traditional processes, using a weak acid solution to bleach out distinctive designs. This gives the fabric an authentic look and feel, as well as the distinctive smell that consumers know and love.
Shweshwe is a unique Eastern Cape fabric and Da Gama Textiles is aptly referred to as the “home of the original shweshwe”. It is not uncommon to see patrons taste, smell and feel the fabric before committing to a sale, to ensure the cloth is authentic. Shweshwe is sold by folded bolt and not on a cardboard core in roll form, staying as close as possible to its roots of origin. All of these unique characteristics date back to the long sea voyages from the UK to South Africa, which formed the original transport route for this cloth. A strong starch is used to preserve the fabric, resulting in the hard handle and distinctive smell, which disappear after washing.
With a long history as SA’s only shweshwe producer, our fabrics boast a consistent quality and a deep historical and cultural connection. As such, our shweshwe and cultural fabrics represent an embracing of local cultures, peoples and traditions, taking consumers on a visual journey of colour through our regularly updated colourways.
We have impressive stockholding and manufacturing capabilities, so you can always find the right fabrics for your needs when you need them.