Next week South Africa will be host to the most exciting event in its annual fashion calendar- Mercedez Benz Fashion Week Africa taking place at Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, from 29 October to 1 November. Click here to read our previous story on this and other Nigerian designers showcasing.
Showcasing the talents of several local and invited designers, it is perhaps one of the most representative weeks in fashion, certainly in terms of illustrating the dynamic range of tastes and talents that exist on the continent.
One of the invited designers we look forward to welcoming is Savile Row certified Nigerian tailor and designer extraordinaire, Mai Atafo.
GQ had the pleasure of chatting to him about his brand and forthcoming SS15 collection.
Read the interview below:
GQ: What is the most African thing about your collection?GQ
Mai: The heart of the designer is that of the collection.Mai Atafo
GQ: Why, in your personal opinion, is it important to represent Africa through design?GQ
Mai: I just believe it helps us tell our own story – that may be African or European influenced, but it’s important that we are able to tell our own stories.Mai Atafo
GQ: Where do you, as a designer, draw the line between an authentic African aesthetic and something that is too cliche or typically ‘Curio’?GQ
Mai: I really do not know what or if there is an authentic African aesthetic, and I do not believe there should be defining lines in fashion. If you feel, comprehend, and can, then design it. Express yourself. As long as the consumers derive value from it.Mai Atafo
GQ: What, from your experience, is the significance of Mercedes Benz Africa Fashion Week?GQ
Mai: It’s like an African Nations Cup where designers from all over the continent come to play fashion and most importantly showcase African fashion to the world.Mai Atafo
Models in Mai Atafo on the runway
GQ: How does this platform promote design, and moreover, how does it serve to cultivate a growing awareness of African chic?GQ
Mai: It brings to the forefront a style aesthetic from all over Africa. Considering the fact that Africa is one continent with so many diverse cultures, MBFW is a melting pot of all the fashion flavours; where you can’t help but to appreciate the craft, get inspired and also learn. I believe African chic is not what we do but how we do what we do. It’s SWAG – Something we African’s have in abundance. LolMai Atafo
GQ: What are the biggest crimes of fashion you often see men committing and how would you change them?GQ
Mai:Ill-fitting clothes, especially tight suits under the guise of a “fitted” suit (this kills me). I will continue to preach the gospel of a well-tailored “fitted suit” that accentuates the male form and not one that cuts off blood circulation. With my recently received Savile Row academy certification, the next step will be to allow Africa to experience not just the amazing look, but the comfortable feel of a Mai Atafo inspired bespoke suit.Mai Atafo
Credit: GQ South Africa