Nyambo Masa Mara’s design work is informed by his life experiences
GERRY CUPIDO email@example.com
African News Agency
THE first time I saw a Masa Mara collection I was completely blown away and instantly became a huge fan of designer Nyambo Masa Mara’s work. From the vibrant African prints to the ready-to-wear unisex designs, I knew this emerging designer was going to make waves in the fashion industry. Masa Mara celebrates the balance between tradition and progress, old and new. The brand brings tribal cultural wear into the present day with activewear pieces that embody traditional values while expressing modern creativity. We caught up with the designer, who is currently preparing to show his latest collection at Africa Fashion International Cape Town Fashion Week. Where are you from and how do you find yourself in South Africa? One of 13 children, I was born to a mixed-heritage couple in Rwanda before the genocide. My family was forced to flee to the DRC in 1994, and continued to move between Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. At the age of 13, I was sent overland by my family to join my older brother, who was working as a car guard in South Africa. I was accorded refugee status in South Africa. I attended high school and college in Cape Town. Cape Town is now my home. An accountant by training, I practise as a professional fashion designer and am now an artist as well. Why did you decide to become a fashion designer? My work is informed by my life experiences. Fashion is a form of self-expression and, as an artist, fashion is the perfect way to tell my stories through my textile designs and fashion pieces. What inspires your designs? Africa and African stories. A lot of thought and process goes into textile design. Retelling past traditions and culture in a new modern way communicates pan-africanism through all my designs and fashion pieces. What message do you want to share through your designs? Changing perspectives and mindsets around African heritage, culture and tradition so that everyone can be proud and inspired by their past and their future. What do you believe is the role of fashion within society? Fashion is a language for the brave. It’s a way to connect people, to promote social change. It allows people to express their authentic selves. The business side of fashion creates many opportunities for families. What’s your take on sustainable fashion? It is truly the future but it takes time for a brand to be truly sustainable. At Masa Mara, we re-use offcuts for art pieces. We also use local communities to help manufacture clothing and to assist with our pieces. Where are your garments produced? All our garments are produced locally in Cape Town. Which designers, locally and internationally, do you admire and why? I have a deep level of appreciation for all African designers that have made strides internationally like Thebe Magugu, Orange Culture and Threaded Tribes. Where can one purchase your items? Locally: www.masamarawear.co.za and at Merchants on Long in Cape Town. Internationally: https://en.zalando. de/masa-mara/ Masa Mara will be the first show to kick off AFI Cape Town Fashion Week (CTFW) on March 23. Masa Mara will have his sculpture, on exhibition A Letter To The Here After, as well. As part of their 15-year celebration, AFI CTFW will bring together established and young designers, fashion lovers, influential figures and the youth through music, fashion and art. Established designers presenting at CTFW are Kat van Duinen, Imprint South Africa, Scalo and Hugo Flear (all from South Africa) and Taibo Bacar (Mozambique). CTFW will also feature up-and-coming talents such as Kaylaamiel Creations (Botswana), Gvllvnt (South Africa) and Alia Bare (Niger). Shamyra Moodley’s Laani Raani designs will make their debut at CTFW. As 2021’s AFI Fastrack Designer of the Year, she is someone to watch out for. “AFI has always been at the forefront of promoting African talent and we are thrilled to be able to showcase the wealth of design talent on the continent. We are especially excited about the line-up of designers from across Africa that will be taking part,” says AFI marketing manager Roshnee Pillay.