Vlisco: Made in Holland, adorned in West Africa, (re)appropriated as Dutch design
While the idea of ‘Africa’ is sometimes a source of inspiration for brands and designers aimed at the western market, the colourful wax prints by the Dutch company Vlisco were historically made for West and Central African consumers. These fabrics, designed and produced in the Netherlands, have become interconnected with African culture and identity. Established in 1846, the company Vlisco focused on the Dutch East Indies and later West and Central Africa as its export markets. Yet today, Vlisco is playing an increasing role in western fashion, art and design. Moreover, Vlisco has recently collaborated with renowned Dutch designers such as Viktor&Rolf, actively (re)appropriating the wax printed fashion fabrics as Dutch. In this article I explore the multiple layers of cultural (re)appropriation, and the deep-rooted ‘cultural hybridity’, underlying Vlisco’s wax printed fashion fabrics. The most recent form of cultural (re)appropriation is the way in which Vlisco presents itself within the context of Dutch design. In this article I focus on the hybrid cultural dynamics underlying the performance of Africanity – and recent Dutchness – through the use of Vlisco’s fabrics in the context of today’s globalized fashion system.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: ArtEZ University of the Arts
Publication date: March 1, 2017
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