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What is Aso Oke?

Aso Oke, or Asoke, is an African cotton fabric that is Nigerian in origin.  This cloth was developed by the Yoruba people, a population of approximately 40 million that makes up about 20% of Nigeria's population. Aso Oke means 'top cloth' in the Yoruba language, and is typically worn for formal occasions (ceremonies, special occasions, etc.).  

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The production of Aso Oke has traditionally been a very manual one.  First, raw cotton is manually processed using a wooden loom and spindle until it has been sufficiently thinned.  From there, dirt is removed via hand-sorting from the spun cotton.  Lastly, the cotton is dyed and then woven using the bright colors and creative patterns typical of Nigerian formal wear. 

The main colors of Aso Oke are as follows:

  • Alaari - bright red
  • Etu - deep blue
  • Sanyan - brown tones

This being said, Aso Oke continues to evolve and incorporate more colors and patterns over time, as this African fabric becomes more popular through incorporation into re fashionable wear and haute couture.

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