Faso Dan Fani – From Ouagadougou to the world

The Ethical Fashion Initiative has been working in Burkina Faso, the biggest African cotton producer and exporter, since 2014. Based in Ouagadougou, we have partnered with social enterprise CABES to develop traditional ‘Faso Dan Fani’ fabric for the international market through a large network of weavers.

Burkina Faso is a major producer of cotton, and artisans have developed a beautiful technique to develop this material into the traditional Burkinabé ‘Faso Dan Fani’ cloth. 

Photograph © EFI/Anne Mimault
Cotton is first separated from the buds using a brick and small metal stick. Photograph © EFI/Anne Mimault
Then it is rolled on a wooden paddle and spun into thread.  Photograph © EFI/Anne Mimault
Cotton can be dyed with natural, vegetable dye, or synthetic colours.  Photograph © EFI/Anne Mimault
It takes 3 to 7 days to prepare the loom for weaving, depending on the complexity of the design. Photograph © EFI/Anne Mimault

When we started working here some women had no background in weaving but decided to join the cooperatives and develop a new skill set. Before this opportunity arose, some artisans collected sand gravel and wood to sell as a way to provide for their families.

Today some of the cooperatives that we work here have over 100 weavers, and they have become the centre of the communities. 

Photograph © EFI/Anne Mimault
In Burkina Faso weaving is traditionally done on a narrow loom. To meet the demands of international buyers we have developed wide looms in the ateliers that we work in.  Photograph © EFI/Anne Mimault
Stripes are the signature style of handwoven Burkinabé fabric, however artisans are able to weave complex tartan and hounds-tooth fabric designs. Photograph © EFI/Anne Mimault