Fashion Talks: Vlisco

Roger Gerards, Creative Director of Vlisco, about heritage, design inspiration and fabrics with interesting names.

Beautiful vibrant fabrics and cool innovative print designs are just part of the reason Vlisco is recognised internationally for their craftsmanship. Having created 350,000 unique textiles since 1846, they have influenced the fashion landscape in west and central Africa along with the major fashion capitals around the globe, with designers such as Burberry, Dries van Noten and Comme des Garçons using Vlisco designs in their collections.
Vlisco isn’t just your average textile manufacturer and is in fact the only brand to create authentic Dutch Wax fabrics recognised for their unique design, colours and wax crackle. With four collections launched every year, their fabrics are truly a melting pot of heritage, artistry and imagination. In the world of textile it doesn’t come much better than Vlisco. Fact.

Where do you get the inspiration for the print design?

We like to look within our own heritage and handwriting for inspiration instead of finding our ideas in the outside world. We have such
a richly filled treasure chest of ideas that inspire us. We use cutting-edge technology to create initial drawings and every detail is painstakingly executed to produce a technically workable and creative masterpiece. Our designers devote considerable time to a single drawing and tend to keep their ideas a closely guarded secret. Every now and then they explain the underlying thought behind the design to me. But we don’t actually do anything with that information. The drawn designs speak for themselves.

Vlisco fabrics have some interesting names. Where do they come from?

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The process of naming our fabrics was initiated by traders. Handling products that are numbered was problematic because not all traders could read. And so they gave our fabrics a name. That’s how it all began. As soon as you give something a name, you claim it as yours. You have baptised our product in a way. A name lends emotional appeal to a product. Consumers and traders identify our fabrics by assigning them names based on their own associations. Often, a new product launch coincides with a major event, which influences the name of a design. So, for example, there’s a super-wax called Obama, which was launched at around the time of President Obama’s first inauguration.

What are Vlisco’s plans for the future?

Whilst our roots lie in textile we are currently developing consumer products such as luxury bags and jacquard goods that incorporate our signature design and craftsmanship.

Check out Vlisco’s amazing prints at

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