Kofi Annan’s Brain

A vivid print celebrating a dazzling mind

It might sound like a recipe for blood and gore, but the Kofi Annan’s Brains fabric is actually a beautiful tribute to one of Ghana’s most brilliant statesmen.

This Wax Hollandais fabric was produced by Dutch fabric house Vlisco, and features one of its signature prints: groups of trees with outstretched branches arranged in curling crescent shapes that resemble croissants — or, yes, brains. The trees are printed in coral or purple on a classic blue background, and the coral version is embellished with gold for a luxe touch.


Fabric heritage: A tribute to Kofi Annan

When Vlisco first released this tree-print fabric, Kofi Annan was giving one of his last speeches in his role as Secretary-General of the United Nations. It was perfect timing. Noticing that the trees looked a lot like brains with the branches curling like neural networks, Vlisco decided to name the fabric in honor of this distinguished diplomat.

Laila Abubakari wearing Maakola
the maakola meaning

The Maakola meaning: small units generating big change

With our strong links to Ghana, we were naturally drawn to a fabric celebrating one of the country’s most important figures.

But the motifs in this fabric have another meaning for us too. The intertwined branches suggest our neural networks — the patterns that connect the 80-100 billion nerve cells (neurons) in the human brain, guiding our behaviours. With each neuron connected to around 1,000 other neurons, it’s a powerful ecosystem that harnesses thousands of tiny units to drive growth.

We were also struck by the similarity between these neural networks and another beautiful ecosystem: the coral reef. Just like neurons in your brain, coral polyps are interconnected to form colonies, and then reefs, that protect coastlines and support an astonishing diversity of marine life. Like the other fabrics in our Gaia collection, these prints remind us of our connection to the world around us and Mother Nature.

How we work with the Kofi Annan’s Brains Fabric

Kofi Annan’s Brains is a Wax Hollandais fabric — Vlisco’s original fabric and still its most popular type of wax print. In 100 percent premium cotton, Wax Hollandais has a tight weave that makes it durable as well as comfortable against the skin. As a result, it’s super versatile, lending itself well to jackets, trousers and dresses for any time of year, and it’s easy to care for, too. Simply wash by hand in warm water.

We have used this inspirational fabric across many of the pieces in our Gaia collection — a powerful reminder that each and every one of us can help to drive change within our own ecosystems.

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