Fashion house that caters for women of all shapes
Posted Wednesday, June 20 2012 at 17:36
Anne Mpinga, founder and head designer at Kipusa, held her first official show in April at the Hub of Africa Fashion Week, in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. She showcased 18 brightly coloured garments made of African fabrics.
“It was an opportunity for me to let people know Kipusa and what I’m doing,” says the designer.
Although she had been designing clothes for a long time, it was not until June last year that she conceptualised the company and registered it. She then left her media-related job to pursue fashion full time as more and more friends sought her service.
Kipusa, a Kiswahili word for a beautiful young woman is a brand built on simplicity.
The outfits are colourful, feminine and delicate. The prints, a big part of Kipusa’s identity, can flatter all body shapes.
“My style is chic, funk, classic and simple. It is every day wear and I put a lot of emphasis on dressing ordinary African women. I like our body types and curves,” she says.
At the Addis Ababa event, Kipusa’s runway had five plus-size models and 14 regular ones.
She says she is constantly thinking of how to cover the female body while accentuating outstanding features using earthy African fabric.
“I’m into African fabric although am selective because I like using prints. This way people can identify my work and say:
‘That looks like Kipusa and those are the types of prints they use’,” says Ms Mpinga.
Her biggest fashion influence is her mother, whom she says has always been good dresser. As a young girl , she would steal her mother’s sewing kit to make new dresses for her dolls.
Clients say they choose Kipusa because Ms Mpinga makes them appreciate their bodies and how to dress their figures. Most of the buyers are aged between 25 to 45. But younger girls are also showing interest.
To enhance her practical skills, Ms Mpinga got a friend to teach her how to sew and this has come in handy.
“It’s a lot of fun because sometimes when you are experimenting something comes out and you are like ‘hmm...that’s cool’,” she says.
This also solves a problem most “unschooled” fashion designers face—relying solely on tailors. When a designer cannot do the practical work, it is hard to explain what she wants to a tailor and may end up disappointing her clients.
“I knew I had to learn this skill for it easier to explain to a tailors what I want if I can also do it,” she says.
She says in the fashion business “practice makes perfect” and that she has put formal school on hold for now. Her focus is growing Kipusa before she goes on to a fashion school for specialised training.