US-based designer keen on Zim collabos

HARARE - A few years ago, Zimbabwe-born fashion designer Chipo Mudzengi-Hwami the founder of Panashe Designs received two Gold Thimble awards for her outstanding work in the men's and theme categories.

The award for the latter category was presented by global music star Kanye West.

The Daily News on Sunday recently spoke to Chipo Mudzengi-Hwami on her career as a fashion designer. Below are excerpts of the interview:

When did you start Panashé designs?

Panashé Designs was started in 2007 and is now based in Los Angeles. After completing my fashion degree in 2015 we launched the website www.Panashé

The business is run both online and offline in the form of custom orders. Currently our team is composed of myself as the designer, a graphic designer, a photographer, models, mentors and strategic partners in manufacturing.

What would you say has been Panashé's proudest moment?

At Panashé we celebrate every little milestone. There has been quite a few proud moments and one of them has definitely been to finally achieve a goal of obtaining the knowledge and skills in fashion design and obtaining it with honours.

Another was receiving two gold Thimble Awards, two bronze medals and an honorary mention and having the pleasure of meeting Kanye West at the 2015 Gold Thimble Awards. Another proud moment was attending the RAKE inaugural celebrity event sponsored by Jada and Will Smith.

Does Panashé target the high end of the market or ordinary customers?

One of our core values at Panashé is to produce quality work through quality fabrics, exquisite garment construction and fresh designs.

We pride ourselves in using the finest material and paying high attention to detail. Since all manufacturing is currently being done in the US the cost of labour is very high and that raises our price point and it follows that our current target customer would be those that can afford that price. 

However, we are also working on bringing costs down to accommodate that trendsetter who might enjoy our designs as well.

What are the plans for the future?

Within the next five years we plan to build a well recognised fashion brand and be in stores both in Los Angeles and in Zimbabwe.

We want to bring affordable quality garments to the fashionable, trendy guy and girl. In the next two years we plan on collaborating more with the Zimbabwean fashion scene and see how we can work together and evolve in the industry.

My desire is to impart and inspire other designers and creatives in different industries through our YouTube channel. The message is to show how one can be authentic in creating their own designs and developing their own ideas. 

I think there is a wide misconception of what it is to be a "designer." My goal is to share my experiences and hopefully empower some new designers out there.

Are you in touch with the Zimbabwean fashion scene?

My hope is to connect with the Zimbabwe fashion industry. I know it is a growing industry and I have seen young upcoming designers doing great things. I would love to be part of this growing phenomenon and would love to connect with anyone in the Zimbabwe fashion industry so we can work together and make a difference. I plan on travelling to Zimbabwe to cultivate new relationships and see how we can all work together.

Are you a family person?

I am married to a wonderful, supportive husband Tamuka Hwami and we have one daughter who is now 13.

My immediate and extended family is amazing and they support me in everything I do and I would honestly say I could not have achieved many of my goals without their support.

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