Label - Doreen Mashika
I design with comfort, beauty, and soul in mind
Zanzibar-based eponymous label’s designer Doreen Mashika creates breezy, island-appropriate silhouettes inspired by the colours and textiles of her Tanzanian heritage. East African Kanga prints feature prolifically in Mashika’s designs, and most of her elegant pieces are crafted from light fabrics. In an interview with Kiran Sahija, the designer talks about African fashion, sustainability, and her label.
Fibre2Fashion: How would you define your heritage city and what made you stick to it?
Zanzibar, especially Stone Town, which is also a UNESCO heritage site, is one of the most authentic places remaining around the world. It has been a melting pot of different cultures for centuries and is a reason why my designs continue to express our heritage in many different ways. Mixed culture is not a trend for us. It’s been this way historically and it’s particularly this essence of beauty we continue to express in our khanga designs and stick to what is true to us.
Fibre2Fashion: How would you elaborate the aesthetic of your collection?
The DNA of our collection remains vibrant and feminine style. I grew up with the khanga print and it never gets boring to play with it. Nature such as flowers remain winners in our aesthetics.
Fibre2Fashion: Where do you find your inspiration for such vibrant prints and designs?
From nature that surrounds me, colourful fruits, and Swahili women strolling along the beaches too.
Fibre2Fashion: Could you please share some insights about African fashion and how has the same evolved over the years?
African fashion has always been there. In fact, leading maisons have always used African prints and aesthetics in their designs without declaring that it is African fashion. However, African fashion and the diaspora have currently found its space and are here to stay. I believe that its designers, like myself and many more from the continent and beyond, are consistently putting out the message about African fashion and pushing the boundaries and eventually are slowly but surely standing on a global stage like many other brands around the globe.
Fibre2Fashion: How does the design process of your collection undergo and what workmanship techniques are utilised?
The design process involves many people from my community—from street vendors to lady weavers from the villages. It then comes to our workshop in Stone Town for refining or cutting, sewing and finish. I like to make sure that each piece has soul, and this is what it takes... made by humans... handcrafted.
Fibre2Fashion: Where is your clientele majorly from in terms of geography? Does being in a remote place like Zanzibar affect your clientele or business?
Zanzibar is accessible from all major European airports. Major airlines land on a daily basis. Therefore, it is not too hard to come to Zanzibar and enjoy the stunning beaches and shop our unique pieces and beyond. Yet to be specific, our shoppers are as ‘remote’ as Australia and Japan today. Our major customers are from the Europe and the US.
Fibre2Fashion: What is your take on sustainability? How do you ensure sustainability in your creations?
We have been sustainable since inception. I understand today that its a trend in the northern hemisphere especially, but for Doreen Mashika it has always been the case and I urge all brands to do the same because such practices would also solve the climate change challenge the world is currently facing. In fact, the mechanisms in many African countries when it comes to sustainability in production come automatically as our societies are interwoven in such a way that it is done not by choice, but it is naturally so.
Fibre2Fashion: Suggest five trends to follow this year to look modish.
I don’t follow trends. I design with comfort, beauty and soul in mind. Therefore, if you find these, buy. How cool is it to look good whilst empowering others as you make your shopping choice?
Fibre2Fashion: Any special message for our audience?
Continue shopping fashion with an impact!