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Centuries-old print known as ikat is chic again

Ikat is a hot print this season, but its origins are in early tribal art. Oklahoma City area fashion and décor experts talk about why it is popular and give tips on how to use it.
BY LINDA MILLER Modified: June 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm •  Published: June 18, 2012

One of this season's most popular prints is really centuries old.

Based on an ancient hand-weaving and dying process, ikat, a type of tribal print, is finding its way onto apparel and accessories, as well as home furnishings and accents.

Part of the appeal is that ikat can be bold or subdued, depending on the colors and print. Even better, it's an interesting and welcome alternative to the traditional stripes and florals that come around each spring and summer.

“In this season where prints have been so big, ikats are so big because they're kind of a nonprint print,” said Cindi Shelby, owner of Ruth Meyers. “For people who say they can't wear stripes or they're not a flower person or they don't like polka dots, ikat can be more subdued, depending on the colors. It can be more of a quieter pattern. It's not so out there, ‘look at me.' ... It can be a little easier to wear than some.”

Shelby said she really appreciates that ikat is a centuries-old technique that has been used by many cultures. “It's another example of this global world that we live in,” she said.

Ikat is a process of dying fabric that's similar to tie dye, but it takes more skill and time because it's done before the weaving of the fabric.

“I am loving ikat this season,” said Angela Crawford, owner of Closet Moxie. “While traditional ikat refers to a method of textile weaving, in modern fashion terms it translates into tribal patterns in geometric shapes and brush strokes.”

Along with the range of color options that ikat offers, Crawford said she also likes being able to achieve a chic tribal effect without leopard or zebra. Ikat also tends to be figure-flattering on all body types.

Ikat appeared on the runway a few seasons ago, and it continues to gain popularity at all price ranges, from high-end designer to contemporary brands to cheap chic chains. The print is showing up on tunics, jeans, jumpsuits and dresses, along with handbags and scarves. Embrace head to toe or in accents.

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