After the fabric has left the factories in Holland, and even before it reaches our consumers, it is embraced and often awarded a name by the African market ladies. These female traders from Ghana, Togo and Benin have historically been the biggest promoters of Wax Hollandais from the 1960’s, giving names of endearment to the designs and fabrics they sold. They literally ‘read’ between the lines to create stories and associations relating to what they saw – stories, which are still told today.
The women traders, known als Nana Benz in Togo or Mammie Traders in Ghana, played a significant role in the African textile market. When Vlisco stopped printing fabric for the European market and focussed on Africa, the design handwriting needed to adapt to the African consumers. The female traders were the primary link between Vlisco and its consumers and as such gave insights into what would appeal to consumers. These women were an undeniable force to be reckoned with when it came to selling, promoting and distributing the Wax Hollandais fabrics. They encouraged other ladies to sell the fabrics too setting up a strong distribution network of ladies who sold Wax fabrics and became independent earners. The names and associations they gave to the fabrics, ensured that they were adopted into the cultural way of life, even becoming the very fabric of life, being worn at many special moments and occasions.
The core consumer markets today are Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Congo where you will find Vlisco being worn at both traditional ceremonial events and special parties and occasions. However, wherever Central and West African communities exist, you will find Vlisco – from Amsterdam to New York. And there too the legendary stories and associations live on.
Would you like to find out more about these fabrics and the meanings behind them? Check our Vlisco Stories. You can also share your personal stories on the names and meanings of our iconic fabrics!
Shop some of our classics by clicking on the images below. Soon you will be able to shop these Wax Hollandais classics in our new store at Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja, Nigeria. If you would like to know when the new Vlisco store will open, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter!