Date: March 5, 2020
I want to start with Vlisco’s own words:
“Inspired by Africa, made with a technique derived from Indonesian Batik, designed in the Netherlands, Vlisco’s heritage and design is a multicultural melting pot of beauty and industrial craftsmanship.”
Vlisco was born in the 1840’s when Pieter Fentener van Vlissingen took over his fathers cotton printing mill in Helmond, The Netherlands.
The techniques that would be used to create Vlisco designs were inspired by Indonesian Batiks from this time. They were made entirely by hand, and it could take up to a year to make one sarong.
Vlisco’s fabrics were originally received well in Indonesia but after some economic turbulence, the company had to look for other avenues. In the 1880’s Vlisco sent its first shipment to West Africa. Little did they know the the colourful future they had set in motion.
Since then, West Africa has become not only Vlisco’s largest market, but it’s muse, inspiration and driving force.
The designs and colours are all influenced by West Africa’s vibrant and varied cultures. Many of the designs are held in high esteem and have been given stories and meanings by the people who wear them.
Some symbols are universal however, chickens for example represent family with the hen most often portrayed as the most prominent member surrounded by her chicks. Flowers are often a symbol of womanhood.
Some designs are more literal, with the faces of Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill all having been honoured by a Vlisco design.
Vlisco fabrics are adorned with the stories of millions of people. From the designers & factory workers, merchants to the shopkeepers, seamstresses and finally the wearers, there is more than 170 years of history woven into every piece.
We’ll finish with Vlisco’s own words as well:
“Vlisco designs aim to be as versatile, colourful and expressive as the women who wear them.
Our fabrics depict spirited shapes in highly saturated colours and are characterised by their storytelling qualities. From geometric to floral, to iconic items and illusionary visuals; all sorts can be seen on Vlisco fabrics.”
For more information about the history of Vlisco head to www.vlisco.com. or read part 1.