This Ghanaian company is producing fabric with motifs inspired by COVID-19

Sep 4, 2020

Ghana is famous for its textiles. They’re full of vibrant colors and striking, repeating patterns.

But if you look more closely at the fabric produced in recent months by the brand Ghana Textiles Printing (GTP), you’ll notice something unusual about the patterns: They’re padlocks, airplanes and keys.

This series of designs was inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It's a question almost everybody asked: Why did we even think about putting an image of something that is so bad into fabric?’ said the Reverend Stephen Kofi Badu, the marketing director at Tex Styles Ghana Limited, which produces the GTP brand. 

“As a company we are storytellers. We tell our stories through designs and colors. So in Ghana, almost every major thing that happens, we try to express that through our designs,” he continued.

Their first series of COVID-19-inspired textiles was released in June and included motifs inspired by public health measures imposed at the start of the pandemic. Images in the fabrics include planes to represent travel restrictions and the grounding of flights, and padlocks to represent the lockdown.

Related: 'Stay home or dance with us': Ghana's dancing pallbearers urge social distancing

Another striking image is a pattern featuring a round pair of glasses, a reference to President Nana Akufo-Addo’s frequent televised broadcasts.

“Every time he comes to address the nation, he has...very small rounded spectacles that he wears,” Badu explained. “For us, that became a key motif to represent his leadership and how he managed the whole COVID-19 pandemic in our country.”

Badu says the designs have been popular, and speculates that people want a memento of this unusual time that they can look back on in the future when the pandemic is over. 

“People were just enthused about the whole idea of COVID-inspired fabric, and out of that curiosity people felt: ‘Let me get a piece just to remember — to show it to my children, show it to my grandchildren, that once upon a time something like the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world,” he said. 

This week GTP introduced a new collection of coronavirus-inspired fabrics called “This Too Shall Pass,” which looks to a post-COVID-19 future. 

One motif is a tree with half of its branches withered but the other half is alive and budding.

“It’s to say that, yes, today there is barrenness, there is drought, there is famine, everything is withered. But there is hope that, once the rains come, this same tree will flourish,” Badu explained. “It’s a way of giving Ghanaians and indeed, the world at large, hope that we will survive this COVID.”

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