THE Zimbabwean fashion scene has steadily grown over the years, at least in terms of designers rather than the market, with some of our local designers raising the flag high on the international stage.
Locally, however, designers face stiff competition as local buyers either prefer to import or choose cheaper alternatives. The fashion environment might not be conducive but several individuals have been soldiering on, producing some authentic and exquisite garments.
One of the stand-out individuals making a name in local fashion circles is Danayi Chapfika, the brains behind “Haus of Stone” (HoS), a label specialising in urban vintage wear for women.
Danayi’s passion for Zimbabwe is undisputed having named her label, Haus of Stone (HoS) – a play of words on the meaning of the name of our lovely country, Zimbabwe. Her versatility is seen on her exquisite and photogenic designs that range from trousers, shorts and dresses. Chapfika’s fusion of various materials which include denim, cottons and organza chiffon brings out exceptional results.
Style Corner had a chat with Chapfika. Born in 1986 in Harare, the designer has seen it all in terms of culture having stayed in Ghana, South Africa and Australia before moving back to Zimbabwe.
“I did my primary at Highlands Junior School before moving to Ghana where I attended Ghana International School. I came back to Zimbabwe and finished my secondary education at Heritage High School and then I went to Curtin University of Technology in Australia where I was studying a double degree Film and Television, and Creative Advertising,” she said.
After coming back home from Australia, she started developing an interest in designing.
“When I came back home from university, I found myself dabbling more in fashion-related interests and after a year working as an art director for a branding company I decided to pursue studies in fashion designing so I enrolled at LISOF Fashion School in South Africa.”
The passion for fashion at one point led her to publish a fashion magazine, Imperia Style Magazine, which she then sold off before venturing into creating her own garments. Just like many other artistes and creative people in Zimbabwe, the fashion design industry has not been a walk in the park for Chapfika. Using her savings and earnings she has had to finance and invest into the brand herself. Overcoming these challenges has caused her to be innovative using her skills in branding to increase the popularity of her brand.
“I believe the biggest challenge has been financial since HoS is a self-financed venture and will remain so for the time being. I believe that one has to invest first before they reap, however, such challenges cause one to be innovative so I thank God for the gift of innovation and drive.”
Having participated in fashions shows, Soweto Fashion Week, Fashion Weekend Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Fashion Week, HoS also hosts other events.
“The fashion industry in Zimbabwe has a long way to go, as it consists mainly of clothes manufacturers rather than fashion designers. Fashion is also rather synonymous with trend items and in Zimbabwe
“I believe we are also behind in this area. When it comes to fashion trends, there are innovators, early adopters, followers, late adopters and laggards. I think Zimbabweans swing between being followers and late adopters of fashion trends.”
This she says brings in the challenge designers face as they might try to be innovative and set the pace for trends. This comes as all African fashion is not regarded as African unless it has the African print, otherwise no one would be interested in buying it.
Knowing the issues within Zimbabwe and the fashion industry, Chapfika instead uses her ventures to give back to the community as well as fashion industry.
Chapfika’s has contributed to the development of the fashion industry as well as donating to charitable causes since her return to Zimbabwe in 2013. Last year, she was involved in setting up an event platform called Fashion Collective Market for local designers to sell items.
At this year’s Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) 2015 she was a mentor at an up cycling vintage recycle show working with emerging designers.
“We definitely have a long way to go but we need to open our minds to the possibilities, and artistes must learn the concept of community as well as the concept of being business savvy.”