Anifa Mvuembe is a designer that is getting the recognition that is well deserved. After her groundbreaking and brilliant 3D fashion show. The designer and her label Hanifa M, which was started in 2012- are going upwards. We love to see it.
Growing up in Maryland, but born to Congolese parents who lived in and birthed her in Nairobi, Kenya, she realized that fashion was the route she wanted to take early on. From watching her mother as a child. But her parents, who wanted her to enter a career that would guarantee her a secure income, met with reluctance for her. And they did not believe that was in the fashion industry.
After working as a sales assistant in retail, which she saved, was an invaluable experience with the fashion industry and running a business.
When she turned 21, she made a dress for herself, which got some attention on Instagram. Which resulted in receiving some requests for making custom orders. That moment really boosted her confidence to continue learning how to sew.
As she grew as a brand and as a designer, she has purposely positioned herself as just a designer. Not as a brand that is just for a plus size woman or an African designer. Her label is focused on women. But she also used last year’s groundbreaking show to draw attention to the issues that her country is riddled with.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is rich in mineral resources and continues to be destabilized by the wet for those resources- such as diamonds – to be extracted cheaply. The technology sector is also one of the biggest perpetrators in human rights and labor violations in Congo. Cobalt is used to make items such as iPhone touch screens, Ipads,.
You would think being rich in resources would benefit its people, instead children are being used to mine these resources. Children that could be in school, or simply being children and playing outside until all day- are forced to spend hours everyday underground digging for cobalt.
These gross injustices are some issues Anifa wanted to bring awareness to with her Pink Label Congo Collection. But Anifa remains hopeful that change will come to the country one day, and the Kinshasa pleated mini dress is a symbol of the two worlds that exist within the DRC.
Made up of colors such as red, blue and yellow, she explains the meaning and significance of each color.
“The red represents the blood, suffering and oppression that the Congolese people have gone through,” the designer tells British Vogue. “The blue represents peace, and the yellow represents the hope and future of the Congo.”
The show would not have been possible had Anifa not followed her heart. After years of trying to meet industry standards, she finally went in the direction she really wanted to go in and it paid off. And she has gotten here all by herself, with no connections or elite education, to get her through certain doors. Which is impressive and inspirational.
Anifa can be seen in magazine covers and all over her own Instagram feed wearing her label, which gives women who are looking to buy her a realistic idea of what her clothes look like in real life.
If anything can be learned from Anifa, it is that trusting your gut and believing in yourself are the most important things. That, followed by doing the work it takes and putting yourself out there.