African textile design is characterized by it’s vibrant colors and vivid patterns. But did you know that a lot of African fabrics are manufactured in Holland? Vlisco is one such Dutch textile manufacturing companies which has been designing and producing colorful fashion fabrics since 1846 and it forms an integral part of West and Central African culture. Vlisco’s unique designs, innovative manufacturing techniques and high quality fabrics has inspired a lot of young African designers.
Vlisco is well known for it’s ‘Wax Print’ fabrics which is made by using two deep engraved copper rollers, with the mirror image of the design, the two sides of the cotton fabric are printed with a pattern of melted wax. The fact that the cloth is printed on both sides enables you to wear the product either side. The cloth is immersed in a bath of dye, often Indigo, that penetrates into the areas that are not covered with wax. After the wax has been washed off in varying stages, a negative image of the printed pattern remains on the cloth. This intricate wax printing process results in unique effects that makes the product so outstanding. In Africa and among Africans around the world, wearing authentic wax print by Vlisco is as good as driving a Rolls Royce. The designs and colors on a fabric reveals a story, often meaningful to the wearer and their community.
Vlisco also has its own collection of clothing line and accessories like bags, shoes and jewellery designed for the fashion & brand conscious African women.
“Vlisco has developed through a symbiotic and very intense relationship between African consumers and traders as well as Dutch design and manufacturing since 1846. In that sense, we see that the brand is driven by consumers and their taste, particularly that of West and Central Africa. Historically, a lot of our designs were created at the request of certain African traders It is just one of approximately 300,000 textiles in Vlisco’s archives, fabrics that hang meticulously along seemingly endless rails in a building adjacent to the company’s pulsing manufacturing block.” – says Vlisco’s creative director, Roger Gerards