The commodification of an ‘African’ ethnicity: Vlisco fabrics and wax cloth fashion in Ghana

R. Woets, C.A.J.E. Delhaye

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this article, we position ethnicity at the heart of the marketplace in contributing to a more complex and multifaceted understanding of identity formation and commodification. We approach the commodification of ethnicity on two, interconnected levels in a globalizing world of fashion. We unravel the designs and discourses of the corporate company and textile producer Vlisco, based in the Netherlands, as well as the practices and ideas of fashion designers in Ghana who make abundant use of wax cloth fabrics. Of central concern in this article is how a corporate company and fashion designers in their designs and narratives unite an understanding of (fashion) identity as both ‘African’ and cosmopolitan, as an individual and collective expression. It is clearly not our intention to applaud these processes of commodification uncritically, fueled as they are by global capitalism. Yet we do want to approach them as creative processes in all their complexity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-98
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Fashion Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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