Designer Monye Maduwuihe, based in Germany, introduces her label Uzoma and shares thoughts about African Fashion in the Diaspora.
APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs
Monye: UZOMA (Oo-ZOH-Ma) the name of my label is Igbo (a language spoken in south-eastern Nigeria) and means “the beautiful way”. My line UZOMA offers a portable limited selection of handmade and fancy African inspired women’s clothing conveying tongue-in-cheek humor, self-confidence and joy.
APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Monye: When I look back, I can find my beginnings in my early youth – then it gave me great joy changing the cut of my own clothes. Later, during my studies of sociology at the university, I have dealt with issues of Black identity, particularly in the Black Diaspora. In my view fashion is also part of these questions. In addition to this form of consideration I have gained practical experience in the fashion industry working as a model, especially when working as a fitting model. Then beyond wearing the clothes for check, I had the chance of becoming part of the design process, giving feedback and comments on look, fit, material and design of the garments. At that time I discovered my soft spot for glamour world and fashion circus. All this resulted into thoughts of an African inspired fashion bringing to life “UZOMA – African Fashion & Lifestyle” in 2010.
APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Monye: I believe it is more than a trend it is a subtle cultural movement commenced and promoted by Black people dealing with Black identity.
Black people, especially in the Diaspora, are looking for elements to identify with their African origin. Fashion is a way to mix and combine different worlds, the African and the Western, a possibility to comment on and to present ourselves.
The African prints are highly visible celebrating African heritage. The haute couture is the advocate of this dynamism between African and Western fashion, which is more and more taken over by fashion industry.
APiF: Is African Print in the fashion industry here to stay?
Monye: I consider that not only African prints, but African styles and fabrics – like e.g. kaftan, boubou, kente prints, cotton batiks and mudcloth fabrics – will be more present in the future fashion business.”African fashion” is finally being accepted into the Western mainstream world of fashion.
APiF: What inspires u?
Monye: Africa inspires me, it is so rich. I love strolling about markets. I have been to Nigeria many times and also visited Ghana and Senegal.
APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet?
Monye: The colorful blouse “ADA” with short puffed sleeves, short high collar and a cotton belt because it is suitable for daily use and it perfectly fits with my favorite pair of jeans. The cotton belt can be tied in a neck bow, used as a scarf or be adjusted round the waist.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Monye: I have the feeling that African fashion in Germany and Europe is still in the early stages, the protagonists are not yet set. As a safe bet I would say that African beauty and styles will be starring in the future fashion world.