Eclectic and Modern Designs for the Socially Conscious: Loza Maléombho

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Loza Maléombho: Loza Maléombho New York is a women’s ready to wear clothing line intended for the US and European markets with women empowerment, social and economic trades in West Africa. We offer sustainable, modern and multicultural designs to an intellectual woman who is socially conscious.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Loza: I have been designing with “Ankara prints” since I was 13. I grew up in Ivory Coast where “African prints” are a commonality. After moving to New York City I started my label in 2009 in an effort to share my multicultural aesthetics with the western markets.

I have always been fascinated by Kente cloth, which is the traditional hand woven fabric from the ethnic group called AKAN (AKAN people can be found in Ghana and Ivory Coast) and is commonly used during traditional wedding ceremonies in Ivory Coast. It wasn’t until this last collection that I started using the fabric in a new discovered way of making tailored jackets.

I am not exclusive or limited to “African fabric”. Although it is the first word that comes to mind when looking at the collection, there is a great deal of cultural mixes like Indian linen and batiks. My purpose here is to break out of the “African label” and branch out to other traditional cultures in an eclectic and modern mixture.

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Loza: It’s funny you should call it “African prints”. The “Ankara fabric” that is currently so trendy has nothing to do with Africa. They represent a history of imitation from Indonesian batiks to Dutch wax prints to authentic Hollandais wax; which are rarely fabricated in Africa. With that said, it is a trend and unlikely to last more than 2 seasons. As a new designer it is important to anchor your brand in the market independently of this trend.

APiF: What inspires u?
Loza: I draw inspiration from travels, traditions and cultures and being open minded enough to receive inspiration from any culture, ethnicity, community and social group.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Loza: My favorite piece is the Inga Jacket. It was the first piece I designed. I wanted something unexpected, fun and androgynous.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Loza: Since we are not showing on the runway just yet, we are focusing on our look books and our Public Relation strategy. Our facebook page and our blog are also very helpful in spreading the word to the general public.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Loza: Get a Business Partner!!! Fashion is half design, half business. You can have all the talent and passion you want, if you don’t know anything about business, you might as well keep fashion as a hobby – because you won’t get really far.
Find out more:
Loza Maléombho on facebook

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