On the beauty and fashion spotlight interview, we talk to Ngugi Vere, a leading designer and stylist based in South Africa. African inspired designs and cloths are taking over the fashion scene, being seen on the Hollywood red carpet as well as in blockbuster movies. This trend is on the upward and with it, African designers are also rising. But what inspires Vere to create such powerful pieces which not only celebrate the African woman but lift Afrocentric pride in general?
In your opinion, what contributed to the rise of African print? How significant is this for African women in particular and Afrocentric identity in general?
African print particularly the Wax print originated from Holland, and through trade and globalization it ended up in Africa where it was well adapted. The African print grew to influence African fashion because it’s a true inspiration from Africa. A thousand patterns on African prints show the diversity, nature, climate and history of Africa. It really defines Africa and, I personally believe it was originally from Africa before Holland and Indonesia mass-produced and claimed its originality.
This has been very significant to the African woman because it expresses her heritage, Afrocentric pride, style and culture. It’s actually giving African fashion more and more international attention. The world is looking for inspiration and the way African designers are creating unique and bold designs with these fabrics is attracting attention.
How long have you been a designer and what is the name of your company; who are some of the prominent women you have styled
I have been in the industry for 5 years now. Started off as a stylist and after learning what the world is missing, I decided to be the solution and create a brand that creates unique and bold modern African pieces. So I created the Shona Accra lifestyle and we have been creating amazing designs since. Our work is amicable and has great craftsmanship. When you wear our pieces you really feel the African pride in you and we make everyone feel beautiful and unique. We have dressed some local and international women like; Bonang Matheba, Monique Bingham, KB, Gigi LaMayne, Bongi Mvuyana, Bongi Silinda, Chi Mhende, Assessa, Lerato Kanyango, Carol Tshabalala, Koshie Mills, Shekinah etc
Are more women turning into designers? What’s your opinion on this?
It is ironic that to this day there is a minority of women in the fashion industry which one could think is supposed to be dominated by women. Women make up the majority of the consumers than the creators. Women are most talented but they seem to design for their own genders and dress to impress each other. Unlike men, men design to impress the woman who tends to be the majority of consumers.
I just feel like women are not being given the power and recognition they deserve in the fashion industry for whatever reason I don’t know. It seems the world regards men as more artistic and creative but the truth is sewing has always been for women since childhood and I bet 99% of male designers were taught to sew by a woman. Men still dominate the fashion industry and it is still ironic. Maybe women prefer other challenging industries that give them purpose and power. Women need to impose themselves and keep being very active in the fashion industry.
What are some of your notable designs, any significant meaning
My current collection is a dedication to my late mother who left me at 9years. She inspired me to be in the fashion industry indirectly and I owe her this I just wanted to honour her. At the age of 7 years, she would allow me to shop for my own clothes and dress for creche and school. She liberated me at that age and my passion for fashion started then.
The Gillian Vere collection is about a strong, bold, elegant and daring woman. I took her favourite colours and styles and fused them with my own taste to give it a more contemporary feel to it. This is for my mom and I hope she is proud.
Shona Accra lifestyle is based in Midrand, South Africa and we are available on Instagram and Facebook as Shona Accra. We can also courier to any country in the world.