It’s official! The US Virgin Islands has their very own madras fabric that represents the unique characteristics that make the territory the cherished Caribbean gem that it is. Originated in India, madras is a lightweight cotton fabric with a colorful patterned texture and distinctive plaid design that was named for the small, remote fishing village of Madraspatnam (Madras). It became a household fabric throughout the Caribbean when it was traded by Dutch and British settlers in the 1600s. Islands throughout the region have adopted their own unique madras pattern to use in their cultural costumes and modern-day clothing. On June 5th, 2021, the official Virgin Islands of the United States Madras fabric was unveiled to the public at the Frederick Dorsch Cultural Center in Frederiksted. The official madras fabric was established by Act No. 8424 (BILL NO. 33-0226). This Act amended the Virgin Islands Code Title 1, Chapter 7 to establish the official Madras of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Thanks to a grant awarded by the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts to the St. Croix Heritage Dancers, the official design was created by local artist and textile designer Debbie Sun. The woven plaid consists of seven different colors:

  • Green represents the islands’ natural resources and production
  • Turquoise represents the natural beauty of the waters of the territory
  • Royal blue represents the deep sea and transport and discovery
  • Red represents strength and love
  • Pink represents the conch shell and the call to freedom
  • Yellow represents the territory’s official flower, the yellow cedar
  • White represents the traditional dress made from flour sacks

St. Croix Heritage Dancers Vice President Alvin Milligan shared that “the vision is to have the Virgin Islands madras showcased on all cultural attired dancers and performers at the cultural events and pageants.” Additionally, he anticipates that the fabric will be used in contemporary fashion and interior décor. The fabric is available for purchase on St. Croix at Divi Divi Fabrics, Ebbe’s Store and Clara’s Special Occasions.

Article written by Anquanette Gaspard ( for Coldwell Banker, St. Croix Realty

Photo credit Elisa McKay, St Croix Source

Interested in reading more about the new madras? Check out articles on GoToStCroix and VI Consortium.

#StCroix #USVI #Caribbean #madras #heritage