Interview with Mafrika
Stylist Africa first met Mafrika’s designer at Africa Fashion Week London, after spectators were wowed by the designs of Sadia Mustafa, the founder and designer behind the brand. 32. British Pakistani. Based in Malawi
Describe your brand and what has influenced your current collection
MAFRIKA is a trend driven, ethical fashion brand. It incorporates high fashion pieces with contemporary African prints. Print and colour clash combinations, high necklines and wearable pieces with a slight 1970s feel influence the current collection.
Describe your journey to becoming a designer/ creating a brand
During my professional career I have worked as a designer, pattern cutter and garment technologist for various fashion companies. This has allowed me to gain a wide skillset, which I have used to set up my own brand and understand the process from start to finish.
After working in the UK fashion industry for over a decade, it has been a great challenge working on my own and also in Malawi, where the simplest of thing can become a challenge. It has helped me grow as a designer as well as adapt to restricting work environments.
Where do you see African fashion’s future and its influence on the whole fashion industry
I believe “African fashion” is a limiting term. It can create stereotypes, which restricts designers from Africa or producing in Africa and even those who are inspired by Africa to move forward and progress internationally.
I think “Africa Fashion” needs to become more integrated, so firstly it is seen as fashion, then it is know to be fashion from Africa. This is the only way African designers will be able to prove themselves to the international fashion industry.
People have negative stereotypes on the style and quality of fashion that comes from Africa, its up to designers to change that view to help grow a potentially huge and exciting industry.
What are the highs and lows of being a designer
The highs of being a designer for me are seeing the reaction of customers when they find out that MAFRIKA is 100% made in Malawi, by local tailors. It is important for me to know where my clothes are made and that they are ethically produced. So when I can pass this on through my company it is very rewarding.
The lows mainly come with the worlds thirst for fast fashion; this has a huge impact on small scale designers. People want cheap things fast and this is something that emerging designers cannot achieve ethically.
Which model or celebrity would you love to see wearing your designs
Both Lupita Nyong’o and Cara Delevingne would be my favourite celebrities to be dressed in MAFRIKA. They’re both doing so well in their prospective industries right now and would be the perfect muse for the brand. Both have contrasting physical appearances, which would represent what MAFRIKA aspires to in regards to their customer.
Favourite piece from your collection
My favourite outfit from the collection is the Orange & Yellow Flower two tone Box top with matching Orange Flower Culottes. I love the mix of floral prints and contemporary cuts.
Any other African designer you are into
I really love what SELFI are doing, its incredibly creative. Other designers such as Maxhosa, Sindiso Khumalo and Ameyo.
Something people don’t know about you
I started my career designer Formula 1 race suits and team wear for two F1 teams.
What gets you in your creative zone
Good background music, a cup of coffee and lots colour and images around me. With time invested into researching, creativity comes pretty naturally.
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