Why You Should Keep Your Eye On Emerging Zimbabwean Label Haus Of Stone and Designer Danayi Chapfika.
Zimbabwean designer Danayi Chapfika’s womenswear label Haus of Stone is making some serious waves in the country’s local fashion industry. Not only has she become one of the country’s leading and most promising young designers, her innovative business model has resulted in her brand going beyond just clothing. Her social media presence, which is how she caught our eye, has been both engaging and highly effective for her brand. Not only do we get beautiful visuals of her collections, but we get to partake in the activities of Danayi and Haus Of Stone, from pop-up shops to the runways of the country’s top fashion events.
We recently spoke to the Harare-based designer about her label, her latest collection, and ife as a designer in Harare.
To start off, can you tell us about who Danayi Chapfika is and how fashion became a part of your life?
I see myself as an ever evolving creation of God. Fashion has always been a part of my life, my very stylish and fashionable grandmother used to sew - constantly, and my aunt was a seamstress, and one might say that my older sister had crazy influential style, so one might say fashion is a part of my genetic inheritance.
We’d like to know more about your amazing brand and the evolution of Haus of Stone. Could you tell us about how, when and why Haus of Stone came about?
Haus Of Stone emerged in the year of 2013. A label with a name that resonated back to my heritage is something that I had always longed for. The name Haus of Stone is a direct translation of Zimbabwe – ‘Dzimbadzemambwe’. It reflects a piece of who I am, and where I am from.
How would you describe the overall Haus of Stone brand? Who is the customer you have in mind when creating your clothes?
In three words, I would describe Haus Of Stone, as Urban, Vintage, African. I cater for young, urban global travellers, that have a taste for vintage aesthetics, with a combination of subtle African influences.
Your clothing has a lightness to it that’s beautifully feminine and looks effortlessly elegant. It suits both casual and formal occasions, and is glamorous in a simple but classic way. Who or what are some of the things inspire the garments you make?
I draw inspiration from various source. My inspirations range from unique individuals or sub cultural groups, photography, nature and encounter with unique spaces.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest collection and the story behind it?
OTHA is my latest collection, it is a modern interpretation of what it means to be a woman of the land - “Mama Africa”. OTHA looks at the discussion around the auto-exotic gaze, and looks to re-appropriate what it means to be a modern day African Zimbabwean from a global perspective. This range takes it’s queue from Black Urban Retro aesthetics. It is also highly influenced by the rise of the modern androgynist of the 21st century - an age of countless blurred identity lines. It is also the re-appropriation and discovery of The New Zimbabwean aesthetics, with the use of 100% locally woven straw hats and bags hand-made in Zimbabwe by local craftsmen. It is a mixture between femininity and masculinity… hard and soft… with a beautiful blend of quirky retro styling.
As a designer and young creative, what have been the highlights of your journey so far? From this journey, what are some of the most important pieces of advice you’d give to young designers trying to gain a foot in the industry?
The highlight is when you bump into people wearing your designs, and you see an increased demand for your product. Most important advice I would give is: be resilient, be innovative, stay inspired and remain motivated.
Can you tell us a little more about the local fashion scene and industry in Harare and what it’s like operating a fashion brand/boutique there?
Harare, or should I say Zimbabwe is not the most fashion forward country in the world. We tend to be followers of global trends, we don’t have our own aesthetic or identity within fashion.
It is definitely challenging starting a label from here, however, i do believe it would be challenging anywhere in the world. However, the biggest challenges here would be the challenge against mindset. Unlike first world countries were the creative arts a celebrate, in Zimbabwe, we aren’t as celebrated and in most cases not paid our actual worth. However, being in such an environment forces you to be innovative in order for you to see your business grow and be successful.
If one were to find themselves in Harare, what are some of the must-dos and must-sees for someone visiting the city?
Being a person doesn’t hit the streets on a regular, I would recommend the following: - Amanzi, they have a fun games night there every Wednesday - Pariah Estate, for a night out in the town - Queen Of Hearts, for some awesome cake and coffee
Most importantly, how does one get their hands on Haus of Stone garments? Haus Of Stone can be found in Harare at: 10B Aintree Rd, Highlands Online: www.zedlabel.com www.zuvva.com (June) www.hausofstone.com (Oct – New Collection) Etsy – haus of stone Beginning on 2015, we will be relocating our business to Johannesburg.