Beat of Africa 20152 years ago
The Beat of Africa hit Milan fashion week for the third time as Biffi Boutique and ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative collaborated to bring African fashion talent to the Italian fashion capital. The weeklong designer showcase launched for Vogue Fashion’s Night Out.
Biffi Boutique is one of Milan’s legendary fashion stores, owned by Rosy Biffi. The Milanese boutique located in Corso Genova displayed the Spring/Summer 2016 womenswear looks of four designers selected by the Ethical Fashion Initiative: MaXhosa by Laduma (South Africa), Mimi Plange (US-Ghana), Sindiso Khumalo (South Africa) and Sophie Zinga (Senegal). MaXhosa by Laduma will also show some menswear looks.
The Ethical Fashion Initiative is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. The Ethical Fashion Initiative works with the rising generation of fashion talent from Africa, encouraging the forging of fulfilling creative collaborations with artisans on the continent. The Ethical Fashion Initiative also enables artisans living in urban and rural poverty to connect with the global fashion chain. Under its slogan, “NOT CHARITY, JUST WORK.” the Ethical Fashion Initiative advocates a fairer global fashion industry.
Simone Cipriani, founder and head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, said:
“There is a mountain of talent in Africa. When I was young, Italy was about creativity and artisans. Today Africa is the same.”
MaXhosa by Laduma
MaXhosa by Laduma is a South African knitwear brand founded in 2010 by Laduma Ngxokolo. The South African Xhosa manhood initiation ritual practiced by amakrwala was behind the launch of the brand as Laduma sought to create Xhosa-inspired modern knitwear that would be suitable for this tradition. Since, the Xhosa aesthetic has come to be part of the DNA of the knitwear brand as Laduma has explored and reinterpreted traditional Xhosa beadwork, patterns, symbolism and colours to inspire his modern knitwear line. Through his work, Laduma is an agent of change, shifting and evolving with the changing times and further engaging in the dialogue that keeps pushing traditional culture toward the future.
Mimi Plange is a modern womenswear brand launched in 2010 by American-Ghanaian designer, Mimi Plange. Lost African civilizations inspire the Mimi Plange clothing and gives the collection a depth of meaning. High quality craftsmanship is reflected in each Mimi Plange piece and the brand prides itself on making well-constructed and fitted clothing. The Mimi Plange woman moves in international circles and is successful, cultured and conscientious. Mimi Plange says “I design clothes for a woman who wears what suits her. She has nothing to prove.” Mimi Plange’s designs have gained the seal of approval from American first-lady Michelle Obama, pop-queen Rihanna and tennis star, Serena Williams.
Based between London and Cape Town, Sindiso Khumalo launched her eponymous label after being a finalist in the Elle New Talent competition. The strong and complex graphic prints used by Sindiso have become the signature of her collections. With a background in textile design, the designer has developed her label with a focus on modern sustainable textiles and works with several NGO’s in South Africa to develop sustainable textiles. In 2013, Sindiso Khumalo was nominated for the “Most Beautiful Object in South Africa” Award by the Design Indaba. Her work has been showcased at the Royal Festival Hall in London and the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in Washington. Sindiso studied architecture at the University of Cape Town and Design for Textile Futures at Central St Martins.
As an avid art enthusiast, Senegalese born Sophie Nzinga Sy pursued her creative talent at Parsons School of Design. This led Sophie to set up her own brand: Sophie Zinga. Her brand is strongly influenced by her travels and the fusion of multiple cultures – specifically Sophie’s African roots and her New York City education and entrepreneurial mindset. Quality is a keystone of the Sophie Zinga brand, which uses the finest materials and fabrics (silk, satin, bazin, semi-precious stones etc.) Sophie’s design philosophy is to give the modern woman the key pieces to constantly re-invent her style while exuding confidence whether she is in a board meeting, attending a gala or traveling between New York and Lagos. The Sophie Zinga woman is socially conscious, well-travelled and is part of today’s cosmopolitan world.