In the Shona language of Zimbabwe, “zuvaa” is the word for sunshine, and it is exactly what its founder hoped for: a glimpse of change in the world of fashion, and a chance to bring her culture closer to her love for clothes.
Three years ago, Kelechi, an African American woman of Nigerian heritage, who grew up with African textiles and considers them a major part of her culture, decided to change fashion and created an online marketplace selling one of a kind African-inspired pieces. Rich in colour and motifs, and quite similar to the African art with its vibrant and intense shades and nature representations, the pieces created at Zuvaa often seem like art put on a human body. What is admirable, both about the founder and the collection itself, is that it’s so culturally oriented. It is created from a certain culture with its own standards of beauty and tradition, in order to flatter a range of women as beautifully unique as the clothes themselves.
Zuvaa doesn’t fall victim of Western fashion trends nor ignores them. What it does is combine them. Taking elements of the African continent and applying them to a Western mindset, it aspires to create clothes not only for the modern woman and the aspects of her life such as her career, family, and social life, but it also manages to express the charm of her culture and highlight the colour of her skin. While the African global industry becomes globalised, Zuvaa’s approach to merchandise encourages and stimulates more designers around the globe to understand and appreciate the artistry and uniqueness of African textiles and aesthetics.
As Kalechi puts it, “Zuvaa is not just an online store, we are a community, we are a movement.” Hopefully, fashion lovers around the world will not hesitate to seize the opportunity and embrace the charm and particularities of other ethnicities and make their own statement in the fashion industry.
Words: Elena Cami
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