A Tale about an African Designer and her vision
The Loza Maléombho brand is not new on the African fashion scene. In 2009, when the designer was still living in New York, she launched her label. She wanted to establish a sustainable enterprise that would empower and support local artisans in the long term. It is this high regard for the traditional craftsmanship that ultimately led her to move production to Côte d’Ivoire. In an interview with Vogue magazine, she explains,
‘’I needed the entire process to have a purpose and didn’t just want to make clothes. I wanted to create a sustainable space, which allows for the creation of jobs and opportunities for Ivorian artisans and which inspires younger locals into entrepreneurship. It was important for me to have a higher purpose than just creating a clothing line.’’
The Early Years
Loza Maléombho was born in Brazil and raised in Abidjan. In 2000 she moved to the United States for studies. Her exposure to different cultures at a young age played a major role in enhancing her creativity.
The Start of a Designing Career
After she graduated from the University of the Arts of Philadelphia in 2006, Loza worked with several fashion houses in New York as an intern. She also worked in retail and undertook ‘buyer’ jobs to get familiar with the trade. Three years later, she moved back to Côte d’Ivoire to pursue her vision. She says the quality of life there is better and inspires her the most.
Loza Maléombho’s Vision was Different From Most African Designers
Loza Maléombho believes that each piece should be meaningful and identify with several cultures. Thus, her prime source of inspiration is West African Royalty. The Loza Maléombho label is a mix of contemporary and traditional culture with a fresh approach. A good description of the highly successful brand is urban wear with tribal nuances. Loza has showcased her collections at the Boston and New York fashion weeks as well as similar events in Johannesburg and Lagos.
Loza Maléombho’s Shoes
This African designer is also famous for her unique shoe designs. Her footwears are also breathtakingly beautiful with cutting-edge fashion imprints. The tribal touches that she incorporates in the form of tiny African masks transform her shoes into a rare, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Most importantly, she makes all her wares locally.
A Rare Collaboration of an African Designer with Artisans
Loza works with local artisans whose trade has been running for generations. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons behind the warm reception of her brand. Moreover, it is this African designer’s vision to empower her workforce. Therefore, she does not impose her methods and ideas on the craftsmen. In other words, she determines what they do best and works to incorporate that into her designs. Below are some of her most remarkable and original pieces.
Alien Edits: A Creative on the Move
Loza’s creative juices continue to flow as seen in her innovative selfies on Instagram. These can be likened to a pictorial diary through which she shares her thoughts and beliefs. The initiative, ‘Alien Edits’, draws on historical characters, cultural references, and other sources for inspiration.
For example, in one of Loza’s posts, she appeared as the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. In another, she appeared with a laptop on her head and a calabash in another. This unique method of engaging in social commentary has garnered tremendous interest and encouraged others too to create personal ‘Alien Edits’. On Nataal, Loza Maléombho explains her aim for doing this.
“My aim is to raise awareness of things I believe in and let other people express their beliefs too. I was in New York and felt a wave of deep frustration and depression. Those events were degrading for me on a personal level. I had to do something positive that would cultivate pride in order to stop those feelings from eating me up. My first selfie was of me wearing a crown of flowers, which evoked a sense of royalty and elegance.”
Loza Maléombho most iconic clothing designs
This is the outfit that caused such a frenzy on social media. Tribal chic at its best, the dramatic black and white stripes mimic zebra’s hide. The broad shoulders are a striking contrast to the fitting bodice that flares out on the sides in a partial peplum shape.
This is a contemporary Ankara creation with a difference. The layered look is accomplished by the use of complementing prints of yellow and navy shades. The body-conscious cut of the bodice emphasizes the waist and the overall look is clean-cut but retro.
An attention-grabbing suit with a difference. The severe white shirt is styled with a hot pink exquisitely-cut jacket with a fitting silhouette and a short skirt that daringly branches out into trousers. The gold mask buckles linking the skirt and the trouser extension have become this African designer’s trademark.
Cutting-edge fashion at its best, the ensemble can be described as ‘leisure chic. The form-fitting jacket has cold-shoulder cutouts and a deep vee neckline. Golden African tribal masks add the finishing touch to this iconic creation.
Footwears by Loza Maléombho
Neat, white, clean-cut leather sandals adorned with the signature golden African mask buckle. The transition of the iconic buckles from the clothes to the footwear is simply remarkable. The open toe design stylishly lets in some air to keep your feet cool.
Edgy, high-heeled ankle sandals in color-blocked black and white. Notice the gold detailing comprising of African masks. The outsized bows add a striking finishing touch to this glamorous pair of sandals.
This African Designer is finally making headway and commanding respect on the global platform. Nevertheless, in her interview with Vogue magazine, she makes a case for the place of the government in all of this. She said,
”Governments need to support the textile industries of their respective countries with initiatives. Designers should be encouraged to use local textiles with tax exemption incentives. Textile weavers need intellectual property protection. All of this would promote local consumption”
Subsequently, we all need to play our part in supporting local designers and local artisans for the fashion industry to continue to flourish. What do you think about Loza Maléombho’s designs? Do her designs inspire you to give the brand a try? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.
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