Cosmopolitan…When it comes to style and fashion, people do not want to be put in a box. So, let me ask you, how would you like to wear the world on your body? No, this is not an abstract exercise or a riddle. Think colorful cotton. African Wax, as it is most popularly referred to, encompasses brightly colored cotton fabric in effervescent patterns, cut and sewn into stimulating designs.
Where exactly in Africa does this fabric originate? 1846 is the year mentioned when Vlisco – a powerhouse of African inspired fabrics and a major fabric supplier for Zigida – started to churn out original African Wax. If you do the math and history, you will realize that the Scramble for Africa was 38 years in the offing. Clearly, African Wax did not originate from Africa. Indonesia is closer to the answer. Or as it was then known, The Dutch East Indies.
Image courtesy of Vlisco
How then did Africa come into the picture? One side of the history coin turns towards the West African men who were introduced to the Dutch army as harbingers of this exquisite fabric into the continent. The other side of the coin reveals a commercial game changer. Initially produced through a labor intensive method, a more industrial technique of wax production was discovered. However, the demand for this printed wax was not high on the European continent.
Africa was a booming business for producers of Dutch Wax. And the rest, as they say, is history. Wearing wax print became the status quo on the African continent. Post the 1960s, following the wave of independence of one African country after another, this claimed fabric was the flag of liberation people proudly wore.
Now, does it really matter who lays claim to the true origins or popularization of this fabric? Not really. With Wax print, what you have is a fabric that has gained entry into cultures, countries, and couture houses happy to celebrate when value and beauty converge.
Still in doubt, ask Zigida.