Hanifa: This Is What Happens When Fashion & Tech Meet Black Girl MAgic

Anifa Mvuemba and her team at Hanifa broke the internet when she unveiled her newest collection using animated 3D Models and the power of social media.

Hanifa collection
Source: hanifa.co

What were you up to last week? Can you remember?

Did it, by any chance, involve preparing for a groundbreaking fashion show that would cause a hell of a buzz all over social media? 

The Fashion Show that Shook the Social Media Scene

For Anifa Mvuemba, it did. This time last week, the Congolese designer was hours away from releasing her newest collection, Pink Label Congo, for Hanifa a contemporary brand that prides itself in glamour and inclusivity

But, this roll-out came with a twist. Instead of posting flat images of her design, or going the usual gallery route, Anifa debuted her collection on Instagram Live using live 3D-action.

Due to technical issues, the virtual runway show took place on the brand’s bridal page, but this didn’t hinder attendance in any way. Viewers crowded the platform to watch the 3D models, with striking, relatable curves, strut their stuff down the runway in elegant garments accentuated by their glorious curves. 

The Intersection of Fashion, Innovation, and Tech

This was a special moment and it received the attention it deserved. 

While some have dubbed this show as the perfect way to pivot in Covid-19 times, this actually wasn’t Anifa’s initial plan. In fact, she had been planning this virtual fashion show for seven months. A crazy case of stellar timing allowed for her show to meet the global conversation on digital transformation.

It’s because of this that publications like Elle and CNN have said that this fashion show has set the pace for the future of the fashion industry. 3D modeling is not new to the fashion space, and there were voices from the comments section that tried to make this clear.

Fair, but it’s clear that Anifa’s work stood out and served as a catalyst for the digital conversation. She put in the work, the timing was ideal (though I believe this show would’ve still received the same attention in time without COVID), and the work spoke to the audience.

Layers and Layers of Representation and Inclusion

This was a labor of love from an African woman to a world filled with African women who have often struggled with finding clothes, in mainstream spaces, that had their bodies in mind. The first time I saw the video of the fashion show, I didn’t have to do mental gymnastics to picture myself in the outfits. The beautiful thing about Hanifa is they don’t just sell the dream of offering their ranges to plus-size women, they follow through too.

What makes this moment even special is the fact that this show was led by a black, African woman. And she didn’t hide this. The Pink Label Congo collection was a tribute to Congo, particularly shining a light on the exploitation taking place in the cobalt mines in the country. 

This wasn’t just a fashion show. It was more than a digital innovation. It was representation on another level and a reminder to creators out there that there is space for us. There is space for our work. There is space for our causes. There is space for our work.

This event was the perfect combination of accessible, innovative, and inclusive.

Accessible because it was hosted on a platform that was easy to access – Instagram Live. There were minimal hoops to jump through and it was also very easy for people to access the show after it took place.

Innovative because of the tech used to make this happen, the skills, and the effort behind it.

Inclusive because the “models” weren’t sizes that were hard for many women to relate to. Curvy bodies weren’t an afterthought. They were a priority. In an industry that’s known for its taxing barriers on black women and their bodies, it is inexplicably freeing to see a production like what Anifa pulled off as a black woman. 

As a creator, I see the world of possibilities before me. This groundbreaking innovation with a black African woman as the brain behind it, speaks volumes for black women creators all over the world.

A Moment of Hope I’ll Hold on To

In a world where the work of black creators is often stolen, with the original creators having to fight for their credit, it was immensely refreshing to see this event being praised live and out loud. One could argue that this isn’t a race thing or an ethnicity thing, but it is.

I look forward to seeing more of Anifa’s work. I can’t wait to get to a point where I can purchase garments from Hanifa.

The trends that will come from this event in the fashion industry will be exciting and it makes me so happy that this runway show will forever be a point of reference.

I hope more creators like Anifa will get to receive the attention and praise they deserve.

It’s only right.

You can watch the Hanifa fashion show here.

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