Thursday, June 17

How fashion designers embraced the ‘new normal’ in 2020


Style has become one of the primary ways in which people express their personality and distinguish themselves from those around them. 

With every new year which comes and goes, new fashion trends arrive on the scene. We spoke to a few  local designers as they reflect on the the year of the pandemic and lockdowns.

Melisa Poulton

‘House of Poulton’ by Melisa Poulton has become a household name in Namibian fashion. She describes her year as challenging, but did not allow anything to stand in the way of achieving her dreams. The trend setter designer’s name was on everyone’s lips when she dressed fashion icons Reinhardt Mahalie and Rumano Fabrish for South Africa’s most celebrated outdoor social, fashion and sporting event, the Sun Met 2020 which took place in Cape Town on 1 February.

Poulton recently opened  a store ‘The Den Designer Emporium  Namibia’ at Mareua Mall in Windhoek and showcased her latest collection ‘Water’ at the MTC Windhoek Fashion Week a few weeks ago, inspired by the earth element water.

Poulton said the Covic-19 pandemic had an effect on all fashion businesses, but she was happy to see how designers took initiative to start making fashion items such as face masks as a form of income.

“I feel it’s a good time for our local people to start buying local products and for designers to get their brand out there. During the pandemic I had the opportunity to work on masks for people in the informal settlements and for schools. I had time to work on my business module after the lockdown orders started flowing in. I have to admit that I have been working harder this year than any other year,” she said.

‘The Den Designer Emporium  Namibia’, is established to inspired designers to sell their products on this platform. 

“I would also just like to mention that all Namibian designers are welcome to sell their products there. I wanted to create a space where designers have access  to sell their products and grow within the fashion industry,” Poulton said.

Reinhard Mahalie

No matter how tough things seems to get, there is certainly no stopping Mahalie. He recently won the Designers Awards Africa African Male Fashion Stylist of The Year 2020, and also scooped the Standard Bank Waka Kids Choice Awards 2nd runner up title in the Top Artist category. For Mahalie, it was also a year where he was able to reflect and strategise on how to grow his brand.

Mahalie also worked on two big television commercials for Bakpro vetkoek flour and Prosperity Health advertisements, a first for him to work on big corporate advertisements.

Mahalie said throughout the year, he was pleased to see designers putting out more quality work. 

“Fashion creatives are starting to put out quality work. In my view fashion designers like Sirenga, Proud By Pewa and Melisa Poulton this year have put out great garments,” he said.

Mahalie said the trends that stood out this year for him was when designers started tapping into more street wear and ready to wear items. Some of the colours that stood out for him are red, shades of nude, olive green and black.

A trend he hopes people should stay away from in 2021 is the skin tone mesh trend on evening dresses.

Liisa Nghipona

Nghipona is the power brain behind ‘Business of Style (BOS). She said this year she had many clients either postponing or cancelling their orders, saying that this has caused unprecedented losses in her business.

“Besides all the difficulties this year, I am grateful that I was able to tick off a few goals from my vision board. This year I held a bridal showroom in Windhoek North and also opened up a ready to wear shop in China Town,” she said. 

Nghipona said the biggest fashion trend for the year worldwide was face masks, adding that she loved to see designers getting creative with their quince  designs. 

“We could not possibly talk about fashion in the age of Covid-19 without mentioning face masks. We embraced the idea of matching our masks to our outfits. As a designer I came up with an idea to have a detachable scarf for our masks, and it was a hit. We were sold out in the first week. I made these in all sorts of fabrics,” she said.

Nghipona further refers to the year as one when she stepped out of her comfort zone to work on something different. “This year I focused mostly on bridal and evening wear, seeing that it was in high demand. I have been working on a luxury ready to wear collection, which I planned to release this year, but I have decided to postponed the release date to early 2021. I am quiet excited about this collection and cant wait to show it to the world,” Nghipona said.

She is excited about the growth of the sector and fashion lovers must be on the look out for trends such as luxe sport, sheer delights and more bold shoulders.

Cynthia Likando

‘House of Cyndie Fashions’ has been making its mark with women’s wear since its launched in 2017, owner Cynthia Likando said 2020 was a year when they introduced a new children’s line, ‘Baby Girl’.

During the year, Likando also shared some of her experiences with others.

“We decided to include another educational department, by offering master classes in fashion design for beginners. This was the biggest 2020 main project to build on, as these courses are intended to be offered for free to those with a dream yet lack the financial support to follow their dreams. This was a great way for me to give back to community,” she said.

Likando said she also had the honor to work indirectly with the EB Digital Magazine, by creating garments that featured in the magazine during the lockdown period. 

This year Likando did not launch a collection, but tapped into other things. “But we definitely had a specific theme for all clients we dressed individually. The theme for 2020 was ‘Get Grounded with Earth’. Earthy hues are the trending colors for the year that we embraced,” Likando said.

Linrico Zandile Humphries

After a long and tedious journey, Humphries from the brand ‘Linrico Humphries’ is please to brag about finishing her final year at College of the Arts (COTA) in Windhoek and showcasing her latest collection ‘Renaissance Masculinity’, a unisex 10 look collection at the MTC Windhoek Fashion Week recently. 

“My new collection stood out because Black Lives matter was included in the collection to a certain extent, to stand in solidarity with the brothers and sisters facing brutality. The collection plays a vital role as it tells a story on it’s own. The aim of the collection is to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, feminism and speaking against toxic masculinity,” she said.

Humphries urges designers to put themselves in the work they create and not copy from other designers. 

“We all have different aesthetics and a story to tell through our work. If we copy one another then another designers’ work might be over shadowed and credit given to the wrong designer. Designers should do more research based on there aesthetics and include themselves as designers in their work so it would be different from others,” Humphries said.

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