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Since 1846, Vlisco has been creating authentic fabrics that have influenced the African fashion landscape. An authentic fabric from the Vlisco classics range can be Wax Hollandais (also called Wax Block, Wax Veritable Hollandais or Real Dutch Wax) Java, or Super-wax. Having left the factory, the wax prints came to live by the people who sold and wore them. Their unique print styles and classic designs have become part of a rich heritage with many heart-warming stories to tell. Stories of family history, inheritance and of fabrics that have deeper meaning. Some of our classic wax prints have even been awarded names of endearment by our consumers. The appealing patterns and unique colour combinations ensure that everyone can express their personality in their clothing.
In this section, we tell you the story of a few classic Vlisco fabrics. If you want to read more, you can click on the fabrics themselves, or check our section ‘fabric stories’. Many of the prints that have became classics, are reprinted from time to time. The wax patterns come in a variety of shades like yellow, blue, green, red, pink, purple, orange and brown. The designs are available in 6 yard, sometimes also in 2, 4 or 12 yards (cotton cloth). Shop the colourful design world of VLISCO, all the latest prints are for sale in our online store.
* Six Bougies
No story about a Vlisco fabric, would be complete without mentioning the role of the West African market women, who sold Dutch wax prints and turned them into legendary items that changed the appearance of an African street view. Honouring these ‘mama Benz’, Vlisco designed its ‘VL0H313.136’, which soon came to be known as the ‘six bougies’. When the idea for this was first conceived, the six bougies suggested that its wearer had a six-cylinder car, a sign of wealth. Nowadays, many take the six bougies as a symbol of the strength of an African woman, portrayed in the middle, who can easily take on six men.
* Angelina, a.k.a. Miriam Makeba, Ya Mado or Addis Abeda
An example of a classic Java print is the ‘Angelina’, so immortal that it has gained many names, as it was loved by many people, in many different contexts. In Ghana, the popularity of the print coincided with the release of the hit song “Angelina” by legendary Ghanaian band The Sweet Talks. In Congo, this print was called “Ya Mado”, after a phrase in Fabregas’ music video “Mascara”, in which dancers wore this pattern. Though the phrase “Ya Mado” served to praise attractive voluptuous women, the Congolese changed the reference of the fabric when beloved singer and activist Miriam Makeba passed away. As she had loved to wear African prints, many decided to name their beloved wax print after the legendary artist.
* Record, a.k.a. Plaque-Plaque, Target, Nsu Bura, Gbedze, Consulaire or Gbédjégan
This real Dutch wax block print first appeared on the market in the 1960s. Since then, it has gained many names, including “Nsu Bura” (‘water well’ in Ghanese). Looking at the wax fabric, you may see the resemblance with the ripple effect that occurs when you throw a stone in the water. Whatever you do, good or bad, it will have an effect on everyone around you. In Togo, this classic geometric wax print is seen as a ‘gbédjégan’, a traditional straw king’s hat, or a ‘gbedze’, a hat worn during daily activities. In Nigeria, the design is known as ‘record’, due to its similarity to vinyl records.