We are in Amsterdam for reasons...

We are in Amsterdam for reasons?!


Today I want to briefly talk about the African prints. There are many things we can talk about African textiles but I want to start from the African wax print, which is also known as Ankara or Dutch wax and is 100% cotton wax print with (typically) colorful and dynamic patterns.

Why is it called Dutch wax? It is because it has been brought by Dutch people. While there are always ambiguities in how cultural exchanges happen over the course of history, it is said that the origin of the wax print is Indonesian batik.

In 19th Century, Dutch traders “found” batik textiles in Indonesia and began to industrialize the textiles to make it more affordable and expand businesses. Machine-made “batik” wasn’t well-received in the Indonesian market and consequently, West Africa was chosen for the new market.

Fast forward, Dutch wax has gained popularity in West Africa (and also in the other parts of Africa), and to this day, the Dutch-based company Vlisco Group (currently owned by British private equity firm Actis. / The group also owns West Africa-based textile brands including Woodin and GTP.) is the leading company in African prints and 90% of their business consists of the export to the African market.

While Dutch wax is generally considered “local” and celebrated and loved by locals in the context of African fashion & design, there are some artists that try to bring alternative views. For example, British-born Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare often uses Dutch wax to present his political pieces to highlight the colonial past.

One of the key pieces is called “Scramble of Africa. It is a sculptural piece with headless men wearing Dutch wax centered around the table. It is “a recreation of the Berlin conference in the 19th century…It was when Africa was being divided up. It was in Europe. They had this conference in Berlin. And the conference was called Scramble for Africa. So on the table there’s a map of Africa drawn. So it’s merely capturing a moment when all these brainless people got around the table — headless, brainless — to actually divide up the spoils amongst themselves. See if they have original entitlements to it.” Yinka on Chris Boyds Blog

Is Vlisco is a bad guy? No. We think that it is just another successful textile global company.
Is Vlisco our competitor? Yes, maybe. From the perspective of “African” textile industry, we cannot ignore Vlisco. In fact, Vlisco could be a partner.

Are we envisioning to become another Vlisco? No…
But it is probably not the coincident that we are now in Amsterdam presenting an alternative African perspective using textile art…






例えば「アフリカ分割」という作品が代表的です。ダッチワックスのスーツに身を包んだ、頭の部分がない男達が、テーブルを囲んでいる作品です。この作品は「19世紀のベルリン会議を再現したものです。つまり、アフリカの分割が話し合われた会議です。ヨーロッパのベルリンで行われた会議です。この会議の名前がアフリカ分割だったわけです。テーブルにはアフリカの地図がおかれていて、頭の部分がない人々ーつまり脳みそが欠けている人がーが、お互いの欲求のままに領土分割を行っているのです。そもそもそんな権利があるのか。。。」Yinka on Chris Boyds Blog