Hanifa founder Anifa Mvuemba has embraced her Congolese heritage on her own terms

Written by Skylar Mitchell, CNNWashington, DC

In September, when the New York trend scene converged for town’s full return to reside runway reveals because the Covid-19 pandemic, one highly-anticipated model was visibly absent from the runway. Months after being awarded a CFDA/Vogue Trend Fund grant for rising designers, Anifa Mvuemba, founder of ladies’s attire label Hanifa, opted out of the Manhattan bustle with a easy message to its patrons: “keep tuned.”

Mvuemba has made a reputation for herself main an unbiased Black model dedicated to that includes primarily Black and Brown fashions, and providing inclusive sizing from 0 to twenty. Hanifa, which is primarily e-commerce-based, has been worn by celebrities together with Beyoncé, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Issa Rae.

On November 16, the model lastly held its first in-person present on the Nationwide Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC within the glass-ceilinged Kogod Courtyard. The Fall-Winter 2021 “Hanifa Dream” presentation celebrated the tenth anniversary of the model and launched an array of recent items alongside basic Hanifa footwear.

Anita Mvuemba celebrated 10 years of Hanifa with its fall-winter 2021 present “Hanifa Dream.” Credit score: Shannon Finney/Getty Photos for Hanifa

“We had been initially supposed to point out throughout trend week, but it surely simply did not work. It did not really feel proper,” Mvuemba advised CNN after the present. “And I used to be similar to, ‘You realize what? We’re simply going to do it right here.’ I began right here (in DC) 10 years in the past, and that is the place we will do our first present.”

Final yr, Mvuemba made headlines for the digital present of her Spring-Summer time 2020 capsule assortment held on Instagram Dwell. In lieu of fashions, the garments had been 3D modeled on headless, floating figures, giving the presentation a ghostly really feel. The gathering itself was a tribute to her Congolese heritage, using her distinctive use of African-influenced coloration and silhouettes to pay tribute to the nation’s ladies.
“I’m so intentional about all the pieces I do with this assortment,” Mvuemba mentioned on the time on her Instagram web page. “Should you’re African then you already know about African seamstresses and the way element is so necessary, and the colour is so necessary, and prints are so necessary. I actually simply wished to make use of that on this assortment, simply to offer tribute to African seamstresses.”
Mvuemba has been recognized by the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and her styles are loved by celebrities including Beyoncé, Tracee Ellis Ross and Issa Rae.

Mvuemba has been acknowledged by the CFDA/Vogue Trend Fund and her types are cherished by celebrities together with Beyoncé, Tracee Ellis Ross and Issa Rae. Credit score: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Photos

In “Hanifa Dream,” Mvuemba ventured into new textiles, debuting knit clothes, patent leather-based coats and structured robes manufactured from denim. Texture was a theme within the present, as Hanifa melded her signature uneven, structured clothes into new tactile mediums. One of many first appears was a blue patent leather-based trench, signifying this growth in method.

Mvuemba’s label has a historical past of efficiently redefining notions of how a trend model should attain its viewers. Holding open casting calls to ladies within the DC space is among the methods the founder has stayed true to this mission all through her model growth.

“The world is altering, issues are shifting, why do now we have to observe what everybody else has been doing?” Mvuemba mentioned.

Fashion has seen the rise of Black-owned and -operated labels, but fashion historian Shelby Ivie Christie says there is still work to be done.

Trend has seen the rise of Black-owned and -operated labels, however trend historian Shelby Ivie Christie says there’s nonetheless work to be executed. Credit score: Zara Israel

At occasions thought-about a trend outsider, Mvuemba initially based her firm with no exterior funding and he or she has organically grown her fanbase whereas persevering with to function from her Maryland studio. Quite a lot of the model’s visibility has been all the way down to its relationships with historic Black publications like Essence journal, and folks of coloration in trend, media, and leisure areas.

Mvuemba, who is Congolese, is heavily influenced by African culture and design, but she says she didn't want to be labeled as an African designer because of inequity.

Mvuemba, who’s Congolese, is closely influenced by African tradition and design, however she says she did not wish to be labeled as an African designer due to inequity. Credit score: Shannon Finney/Getty Photos for Hanifa

“Once I began, I did not wish to be labeled as an African designer as a result of they’re positioned in a separate class,” Mvuemba mentioned. “I all the time use African tradition in my tailoring, which is so necessary. You see the seams, you see the construction, you see the attractive prints. So, I simply wished to nonetheless have that and do it my very own approach. And that is what I have been doing since I began.”

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