Did This Designer Predict the Future of Fashion Before Anyone Else?

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Hanifa collection
Photo: Courtesy of @hanifaofficial

In supplement to Savoir Flair‘s in-depth, investigative series on the future of Fashion Week, read on for our full-length interview with Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa.

A lot of brands are pivoting to digital presentations because of COVID-19. Did you have the idea to virtually animate the ‘Pink Congo Collection’ before the pandemic?
I’ve actually been designing my clothing with 3D technology for some time now. Working with 3D images, I’m able to convey the fit and feel of my designs to my sample makers and manufacturers before production. I also enjoy making them, since the possibilities are endless! I knew that I wanted to implement this strategy in our marketing too, but I wasn’t always sure how to translate [it] to our audience. When COVID-19 occurred, I realized it was the ideal time to introduce this design style to our audience, since they would be more understanding concerning the Stay-Home order.

Did you expect this collection to go viral the way it did?
I knew the collection would do well visually, but I honestly did not imagine the impact or audience reach we experienced. We’re still navigating through interviews and collab requests. It’s truly a blessing, but very unexpected. My team and I are still shocked.

How long did it take for you to accomplish your virtual project?
We’ve been working on ‘Pink Label Congo’ for seven months, and are still tweaking and finalizing as we speak. 

So many people are discovering your brand because of the ‘Pink Congo Collection’. What do you want them to know about fashion in the Congo, and about your brand identity?
This time around, it was important for me to pay homage to my home country. The Congo by way of my parents has helped shape my view on style and community in ways I couldn’t have known on my own. We wear our clothing to fit in Africa. Everything is intentional and tailored. I try to bring that culture into every piece that I design. 

For me, Hanifa is about more than the clothing. It’s about the women. 

Not only has the pandemic forced massive changes in the fashion industry, but so are the international #BlackLivesMatter protests. What do you predict for fashion’s future? Do you think a digital Fashion Week will be the future, or will it just be a temporary fix? Do you predict more diversity on the runway and in fashion campaigns?
I predict that fashion will become more intentional about its messaging and advocate for those who make it possible to have an industry in the first place. From seamstresses to designers and even the consumers. We all play a role that needs to be seen. We all matter. Fashion’s future is purposeful.

Fashion’s future is purposeful.

I feel people will find more creative ways to showcase their collections. Designers will no longer feel obligated to show at a specific place or in a certain way. They’ll develop their own collections on their own terms. As far as a digital Fashion Week goes, I feel it’s a great fix, but there’s something about seeing clothing in person… I don’t feel that will ever go away, even if going digital temporarily conveys our designs. 

I predict more inclusion among decision makers in the fashion industry. It’s time for us to go beyond being seen. We want to be heard and we want our valuable ideas to be implemented and taken seriously. 

We have the potential to change fashion forever if we work together on common goals. Imagine that you get to rebuild the fashion industry. What are some of the most important changes you would make? What would a better fashion industry look like, and how would it behave?
I would remove the disconnect before the gatekeepers of the industry and those that actually work on the ground level in the industry. A better fashion industry would be less bureaucratic. It would be communal beyond a great marketing campaign. It will take action steps towards representation. It will actually do what it says.  

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