Farai Simoyi Puts Africa on Global Fashion Map
Zimbabwean fashion designer Farai Simoyi is arguably the most influential designer of the moment. She is no stranger to success in the fashion realms as her own brand, “Farai by Farai Simoyi,” has done incredibly well over the last few years, with countless fashion victories at the esteemed Africa Fashion Week New York. Recently, she has proved that she can extend her fashion expertise, as she found herself bagging the role of senior designer for legendary Hip Hop artist Nicki Minaj’s latest clothing line. This is not the first time that Farai has been associated with the trend of celebrity fashion lines. A few years ago she was leading the ”state of affairs” as senior designer for House of Dereon, which belongs to the award winning Beyonce and her mother, Tina Knowles. Her client list extends to the likes of Rocawear and Nine West, to name a few.
In recent years there has been debate about celebrities cashing in on their popularity and putting their names on clothing lines that they have had very little involvement in. The debate is nothing more than a dig at the expansion of an industry that I think very much deserves to have aspiring young designers such as Farai, heading the design teams. To be honest, there is not much difference between employing designers to create a celebrity line and designers who take credit for work produced by a design team. We have seen brands such as Dior designed by others, as the designers themselves have passed on.
While the fashion business is very competitive, the market’s growth is determined by designers such as Farai who are proving that the presence of celebrity designers does not in any way demean fresh and relevant designers. The way I see it is that the name on the label does not carry buying power. In times where consumers are becoming more aware of who designs and makes their clothes, it is designers such as Simoyi, representing big name celebrities, who actually have more power to influence consumer purchases. My understanding is it that takes a lot of cash to start a fashion business, and if more celebrity franchises worked with emerging designers, this would assist in achieving not only employment for those fresh to the industry, but the process of developing their own brands, which would otherwise have taken longer.
Undeniably, Farai’s fashion journey is every other fashion designer’s dream, and to have a designer from the continent cancel out many misconceptions that the world may have about the ability of designers from the other side of the pond is a noted breakthrough. Farai has maximized the working relationships that she has had in the past, proving that the saying ”don’t burn your bridges” is true, as the opportunity of working on her recent celebrity line came about from an industry relationship and networking.
Her own brand continues to run alongside everything else that she is doing, and in a recent interview Farai expressed how the balance between working for the Nicki Minaj collection and her own was one of the biggest challenges she had ever encountered, adding that it was like having two full-time jobs at the same time. The big reveal has now settled, and Farai is now focusing on a big project that involves major key players in Africa as well as the possibility of exploring Africa as the ”next frontier in apparel sourcing and manufacturing.” She believes that only Africans can create the platform for change by taking action and championing the ”Made in Africa” brand. Her goals are designed to challenge herself more and engage in collaborations with a variety of designers whom she admires. I must say, to see Farai’s work in magazines and on social media, worn by people all over the world, opens up a creative new thought process for me. Her drive and passion are inspirations to the African industry, which already has a vast number of promising designers who are set to elevate Africa as the biggest fashion hub in the future.
Photo: Farai by Farai Simoyi at Africa Fashion Week NY