Zim’s fashion designer embraces Africanism

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style, Soko said she pursued the world closely and often turns to nature for creative inspiration.

FASHION designer Josephine Soko said the desire to showcase African touch inspired her designs under the Imani Africanique brand.

The 24-year-old Harare-based designer specialises in African clothing, art, craft and accessories.

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style, Soko said she pursued the world closely and often turns to nature for creative inspiration.

“I find inspiration in mundane things that escape the ordinary eye. Art is close to my heart and designing is a tool that changes my thinking and mood,” she said.

Soko noted that she has remained relevant in the fashion industry because of her unique designs that embrace Africanism.

The designs are made from materials that include dashiki, animal skin and beads that are easily identified with African costumes.

“Traditional garments of Africa are not merely pieces of clothing. It goes beyond being an expression of style and aesthetics. It holds the power to uplift African communities in various ways by empowering local artisans, weavers and tailors,” she said.

The designer said traditional garments also contributed to the preservation of cultural heritage as she incorporated traditional patterns and designs into modern designs.

Soko reckoned that African culture has become popular around the world, courtesy of Afrobeats and African dancers featured on almost every screen. She said this had exposed the African designs and costumes to the world.

“My designs infuse all African ethnicities, tribes and culture in a single costume,” she said.

Soko has dressed several celebrities and models with her costumes, winning awards both locally and internationally.

Her creation that was donned by local model Charity Mutero when she represented the country at the recently held Cultural Queen Africa 2023 pageant in Nigeria and won the Best National Costume Award.

This was ahead of 14 models from countries including South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Congo and Rwanda.

Soko has exhibited her designs at several top events, like Miss Culture Zimbabwe.

She has also designed the Miss Zimbabwe International costume for Charlotte Muziri, who is set to represent the country at Miss International scheduled for Japan next week.

Soko said penetrating the market had not been easy as some people demonised African costumes which were mere designs and pure works of art.

“It is not a daily thing that people come to purchase African costumes for events such as modelling, traditional weddings and Africa Day,” she added.

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