BlogBehind The Design

July 23, 2014by 46244554

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Africa Fashion Week London aims to celebrate the work of African and African inspired designers in the UK and worldwide, creating visibility and awareness for this talent. With the work of designers from Lagos to Johannesburg, Kenya to Burundi, Paris to London, AFWL is dedicated to appreciating and sharing the African aesthetic giving us the chance to experience international talent. And we’re going to introduce you to the designers of this year’s line up! We asked some of the designers showcasing AFWL2014 some of your questions from our Facebook so you can get behind the mahali

Boutique Mahali:

Boutique Mahali is a fashion label offering both ready-made and bespoke fashion. “Mahali” is Swahili for “A place.” Charity Kiarie, the head designer of The Company likes to think of Boutique Mahali as a place where all people can be made to feel beautiful through fashion.
The Kenyan based company originally began as a fabric retail business which gained a reputation for providing the highest quality African-print fabric from West Africa. Following continuous request by their loyal customers to be linked up tailors who were skilled, reliable and could be trusted to transform their beautiful fabrics into striking original garments; Mahali began designing for their fabrics and providing outsourced tailoring to customers from micro-enterprises in Africa’s largest slum, Kibera.
Over time, Mahali established itself as a contemporary African boutique. Through their focus on customer satisfaction, Boutique Mahali became known mainly through word of mouth for their quick delivery of high quality garments. As The Company gained momentum there was rapid growth in the customer base. This prompted them to further expand; so Boutique Mahali established an in-house workshop, allowing them to keep up with the ever growing demand from customers for original high quality products.
As of January 2013, Boutique Mahali redefined its positioning from Contemporary African fashion brand to makers of exquisite tailoring. This came following many requests to apply their skills beyond African fashion.
Today, not only does Boutique Mahali continue to provide the best in high-grade fabrics and exquisite tailoring, but they’re committed to sustainable development for the betterment of society. Currently, they support women’s and children’s causes such as the Pit to Palace. Pit to Palace is a children’s Initiative which sponsors education for talented but underprivileged primary school children.  Alongside their support for Pit to Palace The Company supports the Seed of Hope organisation which equips young men and women with economically viable skills.

Q&A with the head designer Charity Kiarie


What do you enjoy the most about being in the fashion industry?
The ability to bring a smile and happiness to people for all occasions in their lives by enhancing their beauty through fashion. It is extremely fulfilling to see satisfied clients. Also, the fluid nature of fashion and fast paced work environment is exciting and keeps boredom at bay.

What makes African fashion great?
I believe as a continent we are inherently flamboyant. Home-grown fashion allows us to express ourselves through a channel not restricted by society’s sometime’s restrictive standards of beauty. As a continent, we have a rich variety of cultures and fashion allows us to express this in a mainstream channel. The different fabrics, prints and ornaments allow us to express these cultures in a rapidly-modernising world.

What inspires you the most in your designs?
I am primarily inspired by people. Also, I take inspiration from shapes, colours, sizes, textures, tastes, etc. I use my rich daily experiences in the bespoke operations of Boutique Mahali as an ever widening source of information to inspire and shape my collections. I love colour and texture, but I also like to be understated. It is an ever delicate balancing act, but so far each collection has been more exciting than the previous one, and this has fuelled the rapid expansion of the brand.

About Njema Helena: blog Njema Helena

This coming Africa Fashion Week London will be Njema Helena’s first time at the event. 
Njema Helena creates clothes and accessories every woman loves wearing. Fashioned with African prints that achieve harmony both in the colours and the shapes used, the Njema Helena aesthetic is elegant and timeless; while always hinting at the playful. Njema is a Swahili word that means good, and Helena is our inspiration, a daughter and sister who embodied the boldness and grace we seek in all our products, which are proudly made in Kenya.

Founded in 2012, Njema Helena is currently being sold in seven countries around the world.  Our clientele vary from fashionistas, teachers, housewives, singers and bankers; all beautiful and elegant women.  

Q&A with head designer Cecilia Ostman

blog Celia Ostman

What has been your greatest achievement in fashion so far? 
Our company is still young.  We started incredibly small, but almost immediately we started growing.  We consider it an achievement that we have come this far, and when we look ahead we realise this is just the beginning.  

What is it about the fashion industry that pushed you to pursue a career in design? 
It was never the fashion industry that drove me; always my love for design and creating clothes.  I’ve been making my own clothes (and many other things) since before I can remember.  Once I discovered I could make my passion a career ending up in the fashion industry seemed inevitable. 

What the biggest perk of your job?
Definitely the clothes.  I can make myself anything that pops into my head and wear it a couple of days later. 

About Dear Curves: blog Dear Curves

Dearcurves is the brainchild of plus size model and fashion designer; Linda Idegwu. The London based plus size fashion brand is renowned for creating clothes exclusively for women with curves. With a signature aesthetics that fuses premium prints with western inspired fabrics, dear curves makes curves loving attire for all curvy women.


blog Linda Idegwu

Q&A with Head Designer Linda Idegwu
What made you chose go into fashion?
My late mum often spent her spare time making clothes for curvy women, spending time with her whilst she worked, I was often intrigued by the transition of a piece of fabric into a beautiful dress. This experienced greatly inspired me, and influenced my decision to get into fashion.

What inspires you most ? Any thing and everything. Poetry, travel, fabrics.

blog Zarita Kouture

About Zarita Kouture:
 Zarita Kouture is a Fashion Company incorporated and based in Nigeria, launched by CEO and Founder Stella Rita Asogwa. The Company has locations spread both home and abroad like the United Kingdom, Lagos,  Port-Harcourt and Abuja . The Company has appeared in a variety of run ways shows internationally.
With classy yet affordable premium clothing Zarita Kouture produces  everyday staples that would fit in any ones closet
Zarita Kouture draws design inspiration from African arts and culture, nature and fashion trends.  Their designs are carefully crafted with waxed fabrics and infused with other mainstream fabrics. This attention to detail makes for a beautiful blend of the simplicity and sophistication in the finished product.
As a young, dynamic and innovating company, Zarita Kouture aims to provide customers with an exciting experience in fashion designs.

Q&A with Head Designer Stella Rita Asogwa :

blog Rita Asogwa

What inspires you in your designs?
I am inspired by the current trends and nature.

What do you love the most about working in fashion?
What I love most about working in fashion is the satisfaction I get knowing that a piece of outfit I make is going to make someone feel beautiful and confident about herself.‎ Also I enjoy the fame it brings.


blog Alisha

About  ALISHA:
Alisha is a clothing company based in both Belgium and The Netherlands. The brand was founded in January 2014 and is the creation of Lydie and Hélène, 2 cousins and originally from Congo DRC who turned there a passion for fashion into a business.
Alisha is a name that is close to both their hearts and was chosen in memory of their great-grandmother. Alisha was described as being a very beautiful woman and to Lydie and Hélène is a symbol of beauty.
 The brand creates clothing for young and dynamic women with s design in a style that
nods at their African roots.
Though the company is still young, ALISHA has already showcased at fashion shows in Lisbon, Barcelona and  Malabo. They plan on doing many more shows so we’ll be seeing a lot of them in the future!

blog Lydie and Helene

Q&A with designers Lydie and Hélène:
What has been your greatest achievement in fashion so far?
The greatest achievement has been to be accepted in fashion weeks and to see that once you start creating, it does not stop.
The biggest challenge is to find the necessary we need on the market. So sometimes, we just need to be creative and find alternatives.
What is it about the fashion industry that pushed you to pursue a career in design?
 We want African wear to interest not only Africans but all the nations, young, rich, poor …
Besides the idea is that you can be well dressed even if you are wearing sportswear. You will see that we use a lot the figure 38. You can wear a sportswear with slippers and the same sportswear with high heels and still look nice.
 What the biggest perk of your job?
Our job is our passion. It is nice since we are always in touch with new people.
However, it is time consuming and very expensive. We try to minimize the costs and to buy nice and not expensive things either from the markets, flee markets or just from budget shops.

About MIA by Mia Nisbet:
MIA by Mia Nisbet is an up-cycled clothing label with a social and environmental conscience. As the basis for the range, second hand fabrics are sourced in the UK. MIA then combines these recycled materials with traditional Malawian textiles to produce a collection that merges the richness of African textiles with western styling. MIA is dedicated in helping reduce textile waste being sent by landfill and has an ingoing commitment to eschewing the waste and consumerism of global ‘fast fashion’ culture and embracing what we have in our ‘wardrobes’ and reinventing it.

Q&A with head designer Mia Nisbet:

How did you get into the fashion industry?
After graduating with Honours from Glasgow School of Art in 2003 Mia developed her skills as in-house designer for Michiko Koshino London. By 2005 she was designer in charge of the Soviet label at USC and launched her own ethical label MIA by Mia Nisbet in 2008. Almost immediately the label attracted major awards. In particular: winner of the prestigious Make Your Mark in Fashion Award 2008 for ethical fashion design during London Fashion Week and also winner of the Ethical Fashion Forum Innovation Award 2009.
Who is your fashion inspiration?
Inspiration comes from MIA’s time spent in Malawi. Mia observed how Malawian citizens mixed imported clothes with their traditional dress and printed textiles. From this observation she develops eye -catching ranges based on a fusion between tradition and modernity. It was this mix of ‘the North’ and ‘the South’ – a combination of different cultures – that is the visual inspiration for her ranges.

What do you love about your job? MIA loves creating funky ethical designs that are wearable and accessible. She loves capturing the essence of different cultures and fusing them into one outfit.

blog Vaishali morjaria creation

About Vaishali Morjaria Creations:
Vaishali Morjaria Creations is a Kenyan based fashion house founded in 2007. The designer Vaishali Morjaria started her career after coming 1st runner up in Catwalk Kenya and winning the Nokia destination competition in which she represented Kenya. From this the designer started creating custom made designs for weddings and evening gowns showcasing both her African Indian heritage via hand prints and embroidery. Slowly Vaishali Morjaria grew throughout the years and now she has taken part in numerous shows locally and internationally representing her fashion house and Kenya in countries such as UK, Morocco, Gabon, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malinda etc. And even appeared on national live TV shows, as well as this she has judged and mentored for some competition like Redds fashion competition, African Fashion Fair

Q&A with designer Vaishali Morjaria:
What has been your biggest accomplishment in your career?
I am a fashion / contemporary jewellery designer as well as, a fine artist. I have had my work in every area recognised in various ways whereby I won designer of the year twice in UK for my jewellery designs; my jewellery has been permanently placed at the Platina gallery in Sweden.  I have been published in books such as international contemporary masters and international dictionary of artists in USA (wwab books). My work was viewed in various countries via the reality show Catwalk Kenya, which broadcast in countries as far as Brazil. My biggest accomplishment is being recognised as a Kenyan designer/ artist on a spectrum of platforms in blog Vaishali morjariavarious countries.
How did you get into fashion?
I wanted to study fashion since I was child and as I completed my high school it became clearer to me that I wanted to do my degrees in various fields of art and mostly fashion designing.
I have a diploma in fine art, BA (hons) fashion designing & jewellery, silversmithing & related products.
What do you enjoy most about designing?
The creative side of combining and generating ethnic and aesthetic values to plain fabrics via hand painted prints and rich embroidery.
I truly enjoy creating new collections with a message and constructing them with a variety of rich/luxiourious fabrics

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