Home » GLOBAL DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT » Global Designer Spotlight: Vida Mahimbo from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Global Designer Spotlight: Vida Mahimbo from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


 

(left) Kanga Jeans Collection/ (right) UHURU Collection

(left) Kanga Jeans Collection/ (right) UHURU Collection

 

 

 

Interview with Vida Mahimbo, Tanzanian Fashion Designer!

 

By: Ayesha Samji

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Tell me a little about your Brand, Vida Mahimbo?

My company, Karisma Fashion Group Limited has three brands; Kanga Jeans, Vida Mahimbo and UHURU.

 

Vida Mahimbo is a Brand that caters to the younger generation; it is a high end product that provides women with stylish ready to wear items. The designs are a blend of African prints with a European touch made out of 100% cotton material. Vida Mahimbo designs are developed to ensure that they perfectly mold a woman’s body to make them feel comfortable, sexy and elegant.

 

 

Vida Mahimbo  in her UHURU Collection

Vida Mahimbo in her UHURU Collection

 

When and how did you decide to become a designer?

I have always loved fashion and its simplicity has always intrigued me. As a child I used to try and compare and contrast various styles of women dressing and always thought that the simpler combination defined fashion. As I grew older and started designing my own clothes, I always used to dress simple but elegant. My friends always used to ask me why I was always so plain or natural, my answer to them always used to be, more does not mean better! Therefore, when I started looking into becoming a fashion designer I knew my items needed to represent simplicity and a woman’s purity.

 

Another reason I am a designer is because I love shopping and can spend hours looking at designs of shoes, purses, clothes etc… as long as its fashion, I can spend hours!

 

During my early years I used to spend a lot of time with my mother who worked on beautiful patchwork designs. I used to get fascinated by the colours and textures of materials that she used to use. Even though I wasn’t aware of fashion or rather its interpretation during this time, I am definitely thankful to my mum for the early introduction.

 

Therefore, my aim as a Tanzanian fashion designer is to bring the International and African worlds of fashion together. I choose to dress women because I have a better understanding of their body structure and needs. During the early years of my career, I had a dream of being able to wear all beautiful women from all parts of the world with my designs. Therefore, I came up with my first jeans brand that had a unique ‘‘Horse cut” catering to an African woman’s body.

 

I called this style the perfect fit for African women! However, seeing that my dream was to wear women from around the world, I wanted to develop a pair of jeans that would combine the needs of Europe and Africa. Therefore, I came up with the Kanga Jeans concept which is a combination of African fabrics (Kanga) with denim.  My Kanga Jeans fulfilled my dream; in 2010 I participated in the New York African fashion week and thereafter in Forte Dei Marmi, Italy in the same year.

 

Vida Mahimbo Swimwear

Vida Mahimbo Swimwear

 

As a Tanzanian, how do you think you are contributing to the nation?

I am working closely with my Mum (ongoing project) in helping women in rural areas in patchwork designing that helps them to be self employed and independent.  In 2011 we trained 50 women in Momella Village, Tanzania for a period of 4months in developing handcraft and patchwork. This project was funded by a private organization and today these women are selling their products to International markets.

 

In 2012 I am working in collaboration with the Maanisha Foundation in providing guidance and counseling to students in secondary schools and at the University of Dar es Salaam in the field of Arts, Fashion and Business. The aim of the project is to encourage students and parents to think outside the box and to understand that the creative field can be professional perused.

 

The project has helped parents step outside the cultural barrier of thinking that the arts field is not important and cannot assist in the professional development of their child. Students have also benefited from this project as it has given them an avenue of asking questions to understanding the process of university applications, awareness of grants and scholarships that are available and has enabled them to take on their dream.

 

Kanga Jeans

Kanga Jeans

 

If you were to call one place in the world, the heaven of fashion where would that be?

Africa, I love my Africa! Africa is the place where the art of music and the use of color began.  I love colours and the way in which an African woman can allow the colours to dance on her body as she wraps the simple fabrics around her. Today, a lot of well known designers like Michael Kors have been inspired by African fabrics and prints. Michael Kors’ Afri- Luxe 2012 Spring collection clearly illustrated the Africa, Safari and nature theme.

 

What are your future goals?

My future goal is to grow globally.

My aim is to work hard till I can see my designs selling in the streets of New York and London. I want to be able to showcase my collections on an International platform and be able to penetrate the global market.

 

Vida Mahimbo

Vida Mahimbo

 

 

One place you would like to show case your collection?

Tokyo, Japan.

 

Are you involved in any other projects?

  1. My 2012 CSR project in training College and Secondary school students in thinking outside the box and providing them with guidance and knowledge on the creative Industry in Tanzania.
  2. My ongoing project of training women in rural areas in handcraft and patchwork creativity and providing them with a business platform to earn an income.

Both projects are sponsored by different organizations.

 

Tell us a little bit about your 2012 collection?

Kanga Jeans Brand 2012 swimwear collection will be the first Kanga Jeans swimwear line. This collection will be a combination of African prints on bikini that will be launched summer 2012. Beautiful rainbow colors will be used to insinuate the nature of Africa. The news will be out soon on where this will be launched.

 

A dream you want to speak about?

My dream is to wear Kate Middleton in my pair of Kanga Jeans from my 2012 collection. I think she is an amazing woman that is every designers dream.

 

 

Photography courtesy of  Karisma Fashion Group Limited  

 

 *Ayesha is a Tanzanian-based writer and fashion enthusiast. Her detail-oriented eye gives us a unique insight into that world’s culture and cultural take on fashion. 

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