Kinshasa Story - From Underground to Billboard to Family Reunion
Written by Vlisco Stories Team • 6 years, 3 months ago
Vlisco Stories connect Africa with the rest of the world. On a regular base we get letters from our community to share their personal story. On our blog Behind the Stories we post anecdotes, interviews, features and narratives within the context of Africa, African print and Vlisco 'classics'. Here is a wonderful story from Kinshasa
Dear Vlisco Stories, we thought we would share something with you about your product;
I came to Africa and Kinshasa in 1986 to work in the health sector. At that time, the sale of Vlisco fabrics was underground. The Mamas used to fly to Holland and return with Vlisco waxes, you had to know someone who could direct you to the shops where they were sold, they were in a small circle near the main avenue and kept under the counter and shown discreetly they were always in demand but the local authorities had banned them from sale in an attempt to promote local product. It didn't work since there was no substitute for Vlisco, any woman of standing wore Vlisco, making sure the trademark showed on the hem of her "pagne". If a man was to show real love for a woman, he bought her a Vlisco wax, their fabric, colours and designs were always exceptional and stood out, Vlisco meant quality always.
I spent ten years in the Congo and in all 27 years living and working throughout the African continent. I was asked to return to Kinshasa in 2012 to direct humanitarian operations, full circle, I was home again in Kin. Imagine my surprise when I saw the Vlisco shop in the middle of town and after seeing an ad that showed a marvelous fabric patterned after a Japanese print, I had to buy it for my wife and daughter. The fabric, the colours, the designs, indeed what attracted me so much to your Japanese print design was it was so fluid and sensual.
Kinshasa has some of the best tailors in the world, and I had a kimono made, much as the ad showed, for my wife and a small butterfly sleeve blouse and wrapper for my daughter.
They wore them at our family reunion in Florida on my home leave. And every eye turned when they walked into the restaurant, Vlisco remains the fabric of choice and especially in my home.
I think you have come a far way from the under the counter beginnings in the 80's when every woman of stature insisted on Vlisco, there was no substitutes and never will be.
[picture caption] Fatuma and Florence preparing for our evening dinner