Doreen Mashika is just one of those brands that makes a statement so effortlessly. Always bringing newness from the island of Zanzibar to the greater market and for that the designer behind the brand has a great following. I enjoyed visiting the store on my 6 country (1 island) Africa trip last October and was highly impressed by the product and the beautiful surroundings. So you can just imagine my enthusiasm and glee expressed when I heard about the latest product launched by the DM brand.
AFG: So Doreen are you able to tell me more info about the DM Kanga iPad cases we have seen recently?
DM: The Kanga iPad cases, for the iPhones, Samsung and Blackberry phones were born based on my own ideas when I once thought why do we, as designers from Africa sometimes follow what the west dictates ie. As in, what is cool and what is not. Isn’t it time we took the lead to say what is cool? I mean about our own nobel print? Why do we always wait until a New York designer does it for us?
Furthermore, the kitenge which is famously also known as ankara in Nigeria is the one on the lead which made me then think, we as East African designers are the advocate of our nobel print. It felt as if it was my duty to bring Kanga into the digital age. A step that is heavily celebrated more than I had actually expected.
AFG: Who have you collaborated with on this project?
DM: There has been no collaboration on this, but since I launched them Telecom companies in the region love what they see and they are hungry to launch this with them for their large customer base in Tanzania and other parts of East Africa.
AFG: Where they are selling?
DM: At this point and time, they are selling in tanzania – 267-268 Hurumzi Street. But soon it will be South Africa and Kenya.
AFG: What was your inspiration behind them?
DM: To add on what i had explained earlier. Its my mission to really show that the Kanga is a nobel print and the inspiration was rather personal. In my thoughts I know that the Kanga has one thing in common. No matter what your social status will be when a swahili baby like myself is bornt the first thing is that the mother will cover the baby in Kanga. As a baby you are carried in Kanga, in the village it is used to carry woods or havest on the head of a woman. Then i thought, isn’t it time as a grown up to carry Kanga into the digital age?
This is when I thought its time for the Kanga! To be put on the pedestal and be appreciated as not only a garment but finally as a case where you would naturally be taking care of it rather than the Kanga taking care of you if you know what i mean?
AFG: That is great! So will you be doing more?
DM: For sure my ideas are not fully out there so I cannot wait to do more with technology that meets tradition.
AFG: And any other new developments from DM to look out for this year?
DM: Childrens wear is what i have just completed to launch here in Zanzibar and the ecommerce site coming up soon. I just did a fashion shoot on kids and the adult one is about to take place soon.
So there we have it. More and more designers are merging fashion with other industries, and it is interesting to see how it is moving on and in the continent of Africa too.