Italian born-and-raised Nigerian Ifeoma Ubby (aka. Ify), founded OliveAnkara in 2017 through her everlasting love for colorful African fabrics. Attending family gatherings growing up, she was fascinated by the clothing that everyone wore. When she made the move to Singapore to continue her career in the Cancer Research field, it was the lack of African culture in the city that gave her the push to start this creative side project turned established eco-fashion brand.
She was taken aback by how difficult it was to find African fabrics to make her wedding gown in such a well-known melting pot of races, religions, and cultures. Once Ify began making and wearing dresses made out of fabrics sourced from Nigeria, people started to take notice. This particular type of fabric is called ‘Ankara’ – a visually-captivating fabric made with Batikinfluenced methods.
You could say sustainability, quality, and uniqueness are three words that effectively encapsulate the brand. Aside from making the beauty of the vibrancy and patterns of Ankara fabrics accessible to women of all colors, OliveAnkara also homes in on zero waste and their reputation as a ‘slow fashion’ brand. They turn the other cheek when it comes to modern-day fast fashion and opt for the ecoconscious philosophy. Ify states in her Hive Life interview that she refuses to be associated with fast fashion because it promotes a “culture of use and throw” and a lack of appreciation for the art of fashion.
Up to 97% of the fabrics are used to make their bold clothing – Afromonos, Cheongsams, dresses, jumpsuits, skirts, tops, and more, while the fabric scraps are upcycled into headbands, headwraps, and fabric jewelry. There’s no room at OliveAnkara for material waste or overstock. Each piece is handmade and one-of-a-kind, produced in limited numbers with prints that have a OliveAnkara, Facebook story and theme behind them such as love, life, and war. The textiles are mainly sourced from the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Nigeria – 100% cotton fabrics that are tightly woven to ensure long-lasting, good quality.
Community sustainability is another one of the brand’s main values, where unsold clothes are returned to the manufacturers so they can sell them to their own communities to support the local economy. Garment makers are fairly paid and the livelihood of small communities in villages around Singapore is supported through OliveAnkara’s initiatives, giving the clothing an ethical stamp of approval.
Wearing clothing by OliveAnkara becomes a powerful statement of culture-blending, rich history, and environmental respect and is sure to turn heads. Whether you’re looking for a statement piece, looking to make your wardrobe more sustainable, or simply upgrading your style, these beautiful contemporary pieces will draw you in. OliveAnkara products are available on their website oliveankara.com, or at their showroom in Tiong Bahru.