Apparently, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered and affected the fashion industry and fashion shows and has forced people to seek innovative ways to reach out to customers. Even as the tribulations affect the fashion industry, Anifa Mvuemba is sure to make her way. On Friday, May 22nd, the Congolese designer of contemporary brand Hanifa debuted her latest collection on Instagram Live via 3D models.
According to her, she had plans for a digital show prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. “The news broke out about how serious things were and I started to feel a bit anxious about everything going around. I started feeling like maybe it would be insensitive to create and share a new collection online while people were facing a very difficult health challenge,” Anifa said.
The African designer has been using 3D mockups for a while to share ideas with her team during sample-making but says “designing content using 3D models and now an entire collection has been a complete game-changer for me. It actually needed a big amount of attention-to-detail for the clothes to fit and look just right.”
After concluding a meeting with her team, she then decided to follow her purpose and go along with the show. “My decision to keep going could impact our prospective clients for the better in ways I never imagined. That’s when I knew it was time,” Anifa said — and she was right.
On Friday, after the digital show began, the numbers of the viewers exponentially grew, as the bar was instantly raised. Inspired by her hometown in Congo, Anifa was intentional about illuminating the issues facing the Central African country with a short documentary at the start of the show; from mineral site conditions to the women and children who suffer as a result of these issues. Anifa’s aim was to educate before debuting any fashion show. “Serving was a big part of who I am, and what I want to do,” she said in the short documentary.
Anifa made sure every piece told a story from a colorful backless ribbed dress representing the Congo flag colors to a curve-hugging maxi dress completed with detailed pockets and side ruching, to the finale’s floor-length silk gown emblazoned with grassy hills and rivers. All garments were draped on their three-dimensional curves.
“I want each of these pieces to tell a story of meaning. I want them to serve as a reminder to us, to be intentional about what we create. Not for clout or for Instagram likes, but for the sake of meaning what we say by storytelling through our designs.” Anifa says, adding that she wants to pay homage to all African seamstresses with her work, not just those from Congo alone.
According to her, she chose Instagram as her platform in order to create a seamless front and to give everyone a front-row seat on the detail and delicacy of the clothes.
“We know that some people have never experienced a fashion week or Hanifa exhibition, so we wanted to show up for our audience where they show up for us on a daily basis. That’s when Instagram became the primary choice.” Not long after the show, screen recordings quickly made their way to Twitter and went viral.
Further to creating a possible blueprint for the future of fashion, the fashion show’s use of 3D models offers a different way for consumers to access or see clothing. “Using a digital model, you’re determining the measurements and what would cause the model to look most realistic,” she says.
“Without real humans to draw inspiration from, there could be no 3D models to emulate our curves, beautiful skin tones, and walking patterns. For me, the greatest challenge is making sure that the beauty we exhibit in reality is well represented on the screen.”
As the fashion industry continues to find balance during the post-pandemic times, and digital shows potentially become more common, Anifa is paving the way for true innovation and change.
However, she challenges other young designers to “carve out time to discover their voice before conveying it to the world. Creating is fun and we all love to do it, but the real work is in identifying who you want to be in this industry and whether you like or not your collections speak ahead of that.”