In this post, we are bringing you our ASO-OKE LOOKBOOK, our curation of the latest and best aso-oke styles, designs, colour combinations and fabrics worn by stylish brides and grooms at top Yoruba traditional engagement and weddings in Nigeria. You’ll also get to know about interesting facts about aso-oke types, the origin and production of aso-oke and more. As you know, there’s no Yoruba wedding without the couple decking in gorgeous aso-oke clothing. In this article, we also listed some places where you can buy aso-oke, plus interesting aso-oke historical facts. Play the video slideshow below to start looking at latest exotic aso-oke designs and the beautiful colour combos (see them below).
Introducing NaijaGlamWedding’s Aso-Oke Lookbook for Yoruba Brides and Grooms
Aso-oke is the most popular yoruba traditional wedding attire. While every woman gets excited at the thought of buying a new outfit, for most Yoruba brides, choosing a colour combination and designs of aso-oke for traditional engagement is one of the most confusing and challenging time during wedding planning. That’s because aso-oke fabrics are available in a wide array of sweet colours and designs that you’ll almost want every aso-oke you set your eyes on. After hours of analysis-paralysis of many different aso-oke colours and designs, some brides get confused and pick just any aso-oke for themselves and their husband-to-be. Hopefully, our aso-oke pictures lookbook in the video above, will inspire you as you choose the best colours, pattern design and style of your wedding aso-oke.
Origin and History of Aso-Oke Fabric
Aso oke (pronounced: AH-SHAW-OKAY) is a patterned cloth, hand-woven by the Yoruba people of South-West Nigeria. Literally, aso-oke means ‘top cloth’ or ‘high cloth’ or “clothing for prestige’ / ‘prestigious cloth’(translated to English), and is a ceremonial clothing worn on special occasions during special such as chieftaincy ceremonies, parties, weddings, christening/ naming ceremony, traditional festivals and other important occasions. The aso-oke is also the cloth for royalty, worn by the Obas (Kings).
One of our Yoruba readers, Tolulope, was kind enough to let us know that the Yoruba word “Aso oke” was derived from the early name of this fabric, “Aso ilu oke”, which when translated, meant clothing from the highland. The Yoruba word “oke” in Aso-Oke refers to highland (by topography) and not social status, because the fabric was sourced from the highland part of Yorubaland (precisely, the source was Iseyin in Oyo state of Nigeria). The parts of Yorubaland referred to as lowlands (areas with low topography) include Lagos, ijebu, badagry, etc.
Today, the word, “aso-oke” has gone to also mean ‘top cloth’ or ‘clothing for prestige’ – incidentally, the Yoruba word “oke” also means TOP, and today, aside from being a clothing attire, the aso-oke was worn as a symbol, or to showcase prestige and wealth.
Here’s how cloth weaving started with the Yoruba people. Back in the days, the Yoruba people had very big cotton farms, and processing of cotton to cloth was a source of livelihood for most cotton-farming families, as they were self-contained mini-textile industries. Then, almost every family member was involved in the production line – the women and children spinned the harvested cotton into threads, and also dyed the threads into various colours. Some men and women were skilled in craft of weaving the threads into cloth – the aso-oke cloth.
The aso-oke industry and demand has since grown so big that it is no longer dependent on cotton produced within the families. Today, the production of aso-oke has changed significantly – the big cotton farms have disappeared, along with the cotton spinners and thread dyers. The aso-oke weavers now source for imported ready-made threads with which to weave their aso-oke, and they are no longer confined to weaving aso-oke cloth with cotton; they now use other types of threads including silk, rayon and shiny metallic lurex (from Japan).
The aso-oke fabric, designs, patterns and colours have evolved over time to create some of the most elegant and prestigious textile in the World. While such changes added a high cost to aso-oke, it also increased its appeal to the internationally market. Aso-oke is now worn all over Nigeria and outside too. And, you can still find the classic, traditional aso-oke sold in Nigeria.
Back in the days, the traditional weavers made aso-oke in three main colours – blue (called ‘etu’), crimson red (called ‘alaari’), and brown (‘sanyan’). At that time, the aso-oke designs were mainly stripes – blue stripes or red stripes or brown stripes.
Production of Aso-oke
Have you ever wondered ‘how is aso-oke fabric is produced’? ‘Aso oke’ cloth is woven on a narrow loom. The end product is a 40-foot strip of cloth. Traditionally, aso-oke is sold in strips of narrow cloth – just the way they are produced. The buyer would then find a tailor to join the pieced together, in order to make a full cloth. Today, you can still find aso-oke cloth packaged in the classic traditional way or you can buy strips of the woven cloth from one of many retailers who sell already-joined, complete aso-oke cloth.
Different Types and Designs of Aso-Oke Fabrics
There are many different types of aso-oke fabrics in the market. However, back in the days, there was only 3 types, differentiated only by colours. At that early time, there were just three main aso-oke colours, traditionally – etu aso-oke (dark blue with stripes), alaari baba aso-oke, and Sanyan/ Soyon aso-oke (brown, with stripes pattern). These are still available, as the classic, traditional aso-oke designs.
Today’s aso-oke fabrics and designs are more colourful, bling-bling and light-weight than the early, classic aso-oke fabric designs. Today, the aso-oke cloth weavers are sourcing assorted types of thread looms and colours, so aso-oke types have increased. The new types of aso-oke are categorized based on their weave designs, pattern and thread types, and they include:
- Cotton weave aso-oke design
- Double weave aso-oke design
- Damask aso-oke
- Lace aso-oke (net lace, ordinary lace)
- Handcut aso-oke design (looks and feels like lace fabric)
- Kente aso-oke (Kente-oke)
- Metallic aso-oke
- Metallic aso-oke
- Net aso-oke design
- Normal net design
- Super-net aso-oke
- Silk aso-oke
- Cotton aso-oke
- Wire aso-oke
- Aso-oke with Print art work design
- Aso-oke with Monogramming
- …And many others.
Fashion and Styles of Wearing Aso-Oke Clothing
The aso-oke is produced and sold in pieces of cloth, so that the buyer would sew them to fit his/ her own size. The aso-oke styles are classic – the men make their aso-oke in a similar style, and similar style, and the women’s aso-oke styles are sewn in the same fashion.
ASO-OKE STYLES FOR WOMEN: Women’s aso oke style is traditionally a four-piece outfit consisting of a wrapper (called iro), a blouse (buba), a shawl (Ipele or Iborun) and a headtie (called “Gele”). Most women also use part of the aso-oke to sew a blouse/ top, called “iro”. The shawl is placed over the shoulder or tied round the waist.
ASO-OKE STYLE FOR TRADITIONAL WEDDING: Aso-Oke styles for a bride at her traditional wedding includes a beautiful beaded necklace and a fashion hand fan that compliments and matches her aso-oke. Usually, the hand-fan is bought together with the aso-oke wedding attire. Both accessories add more glamour to the bridal aso-oke. The groom’s aso-oke and cap (fila) colour combination and design is usually coordinated with that of the bride’s (as you can see in the pictures above).
ASO-OKE STYLE FOR MEN: The men’s w aso-oke style is traditionally a three-piece attire, consisting of a trouser (sokoto), a tunic-style top (buba or dansiki), a flowing robe (agbada – this is worn over the buba) and a cap/ hat (fila).
Because of the importance attached to the aso-oke fabric, and the prestige that the fabric bestows to the wearer, aso-oke is the preferred clothing for brides and grooms, as well as for the parents of the celebrants, during their traditional engagement ceremonies and wedding. Colourful, uniformed aso-oke styles are also worn as “aso-ebi’ by friends and family of a celebrant, or bride or groom – makes the event look colourful and the wearers stand out.
- SEE ALSO: 100 Latest Ankara Styles for Women
Where To Buy Nigerian Aso-Oke Fabrics?
Aso-oke is widely available in and outside Nigeria. You can either buy aso-oke directly from the cloth weavers or from retailers in Nigerian markets – aso-oke is widely available for sale in many Lagos markets and shops, including the famous Balogun market. The fabrics are also exported to, and sold outside Nigeria, and so you can find aso-oke sold in London (UK), USA and European and other African countries.
A note about pricing – if you prefer to shop in the open markets, such as Balogun or Ibadan market, know that you can get your aso-oke cheaper by bargaining, and some haggling.
Some Online Stores that Sell Nigerian Aso-Oke: In case you love shopping via the internet, you can now buy aso-oke fabric directly from some top Nigerian weavers and retailers’ online stores, including the following places:
- Needles and Thread Aso-Oke: mikewig.com OR at www.needlesnthread.com AND at facebook.com/needlesand.thread – they are a trend-setter in contemporary aso-oke designs and they produce aso-oke fabrics and also sell.
- Bellisimo aso-oke: They are on Facebook and sell aso-oke and traditional wedding beads for brides. You can see some of their aso-oke designs on their Facebook page, and also be able to contact them in case you find any style you like.
- Heritage aso-oke: Their website is at www.asooke.com.ng and they also have a Facebook page. They’ve been selling aso-oke for over 20 years. I like that they even have a price list on their site, plus a helpful aso-oke colour combination guide, as well as measurement guide for men and women respectively.
Those (above) and many other aso-oke makers and sellers in Nigeria and abroad have physical store locations that you can visit to see and buy beautiful aso-oke fabrics in assorted colours and designs.
So, Which Picture Is Your Fave Aso-oke Design?
There you have it for our aso-oke lookbook of latest styles, colours and designs – we hope you like them. Please share this post with your friends – tweet/ facebook/ insstagram it, email it.
Choosing the design and colour combination of aso-oke (for one’s yoruba traditional wedding) is a challenging task, hopefully by looking at the above pictures of other brides wearing different aso-oke styles and fabric designs, you can quickly find lots of inspiration for your wedding aso-oke. Oher great places to get ideas for great aso-oke colours are instagram, pinterest, bella naija, ovation magazine and here (naijaglamwedding).
Now, tell me in the comments below – which is your favourite aso-oke colour combination, fabric style or design, from the above pictures slideshow of brides and grooms glammed up in their Yoruba traditional wedding attire?