Then and Now: Keeping Traditional Prints Relevant With Advanced Technology

Nogah Senecky
February 16, 2023

Scientists coined the term “enclothed cognition” to describe how clothes affect our mood, attitude, and interactions with others. Today, we’d like to discuss their effect on our cultural identity. Black History Month reminds us how important it is to nurture and protect our cultural identities. This includes narratives, customs, traditions, and aesthetics. 


African prints have always been a source of inspiration, and incorporating them into modern living is a beautiful way of keeping certain traditions and stories relevant. Here are three things to keep in mind in order to preserve cultural identity through printed fabrics.

  • Make It an Integral Part of Current Living


Instead of one complete traditional outfit to be worn during special community occasions, bring vibrant prints into various corners of your world, making them relevant and usable. This can include Home Décor items, printed athleisure garments, accessories, and much more. Surround yourself with prints that remind you of your past, turning them into something that fits in seamlessly with your daily life. This will keep their spirit and stories alive, strengthening your sense of belonging and individuality at the same time.  

  • Keep Printed Items Bold Enough, and Subtle Enough


A bold, bright printed garment cannot be ignored. Its dominant nature is part of what makes the print so important, but not everyone feels comfortable walking into a business meeting with such a statement piece. Instead of neglecting your traditional prints altogether, incorporate printed patterns bold enough to be noticed without taking over. Today’s printing technology allows you to create any item imaginable, opening the door to countless modern interpretations that fit every mood, setting, and need. 

  • Make It Your Own


Personalized traditional items allow us to share not only stories from our community but also from our close family and personal history. Printed patterns that tell your ancestors’ story will expose younger generations to the past that makes you who you are. According to studies in the field, the best time to form a person’s sense of cultural identity is during the primary school years. Printing customized items your kids can use and enjoy, letting them know what each print means, will start new traditions and preserve old ones. This is who you are, so make it yours. 


Digital technology is how we create printed items today and will continue to pave the way for printed textile tomorrow. Ensuring it includes a part of our past is up to us.