Khrista Rypl reports on research at Vlisco, a Dutch wax textile manufacturer that exports to many African countries:
Inge Oosterhoff wrote a wonderful deep dive into the history behind the Vlisco textile house, and explained how their designs have remained hugely popular in Africa since the late 1800s. But Vlisco doesn’t just make fabric; they’re known for their printed designs. And unlike many fashion companies, Vlisco doesn’t name their patterns: each is given a number and then distributed to different areas in Africa. Some patterns are designed with different countries in mind, while others are distributed widely around the continent. As the patterns catch on among shopkeepers and consumers, many of them get colorful names like “Love Bomb,” “Tree of Obama,” and “Mirror in the Sun.” But the names aren’t even the best part: many popular patterns have developed specific cultural meanings and subtexts.
I spent a whole morning digging into the extensive Vlisco archives, where staff archivists are crowdsourcing some of the stories behind the patterns, and I wanted to share a few (and also just some really rad fabric).
With thanks to Studio 360. See more at : http://www.studio360.org/story/sideshow-textiles-tell-cultural-history/