Senior Arts Reporter
Zimbabwean fashion designer Eglet Mtengwa Nyabvure who is based in the Netherlands has said for the local fashion industry to grow, it should be visible on digital platforms and invest in good quality pictures on social media.
Nyabvure, who is on cloud nine after recently launching her fashion label, “Pfeka” in Netherlands said in an interview with The Herald Arts that the store was inspired by African culture, which focus on selected African prints and patterns with great meanings and value.
“I really wanted a sustainable clothing line that would beautifully bring African pride, meaning and stories inspired by Africa in people,” said Nyabvure.
“Wearing the brand is a true sign of pride. Since the issue of identity had to be visible and be clear in my brand, I had to use a simple, but catchy name, Pfeka,‘to wear’ which is a word anyone who is from or related to Zimbabwe would easily know.”
Nyabvure wanted to tell an African story through fashion.
“After living for a long time now in Netherlands, I have integrated and adopted the Dutch culture,” she said. “I still hold Zimbabwean culture so dearly and these two cultures have defined the brand ‘Pfeka’.
“There are several people like me, even those who do not have African roots, who love a subtle dash of colour and patterns, with the fact that these prints and colours do have deep meanings and tell stories inspired by Africa make it even more appealing.”
Nyabvure said fashion was now a lifestyle and people nowadays go for value, meaning and quality.
“We are into slow fashion, people buy things they want to keep forever and since Pfeka is more like a souvenir, you know you will not easily dispose of it, we have made it suitable for everyday use as well.
“We make Pfeka represent Africa in quality and in detail, the market loves that uniqueness. The fact that we are creatively bringing these rich and positive African stories to Europe, is truly appreciated. It’s shading a light in a different form on how beautiful, and rich Africa is.”
Asked how she ventured into fashion, Nyabvure said it began as a passion.
“Being a woman and minority in the engineering industry, the issue of identity was close to my heart,” she said. “I always wanted to stand out and make sure I stayed authentic.
“When we moved to Europe it got even so apparent because being black was added to the equation, so I decided to wear clothes that would represent who I am, a beautiful ‘mwana wevhu’ — A Zimbabwean daughter of the soil and an African.”
Nyabvure said clothes indeed define a person.
“I wanted to wear clothes that I could relate to, so I added some African prints into my wardrobe, but looking at it, these African prints were all shouting Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria and other countries, except Zimbabwe,” said Nyabvure.
“The fabrics and materials were also too colourful, too bold and I couldn’t find something quite subtle carrying a powerful statement and of premium quality.”
Nyabvure, a talented designer, said Pfeka was born in 2017.
“I decided, well, if no one has it, I have got to do it and that is when I started to look for more information into the fashion world.
“Nowadays it is all about slow fashion and the drive to save resources.”
Nyabvure said her role model was Ethiopian athlete Tirunesh Dibaba.
“She is such a fighter, I love her energy, determination, and the fact that she knew that she was born to run, built on it and is now a great success in what she does, and this inspires Pfeka,” she said.
“I would want to create history, tell the African stories and above all bring a Zimbabwean brand to the street. Through Pfeka we will know Zimbabwe as a country to bring out some best Africa inspired creative designs.”
Born in Mberengwa where she grew up helping her parents with their grocery store laid a strong foundation for Nyabvure as an entrepreneur.
“I moved to Harare for tertiary education, studied telecommunications engineering and was working for Philips as a lead technician until the time I decided to start my own telecommunications and electrical business, Tale Electricals,” she said.
“We got a work opportunity in Cape Town South Africa in 2007. We lived there for a year and another work opportunity opened in The Netherlands where we are now based. I have registered and managed two businesses here.”
Nyabvure urged local fashion designers, models and fashion celebrities to unite for the betterment of the industry.
“We should have less competition and more collaborations,” she said.
“When working as a team, you get to have input from different individuals, usually there would be someone who knows something the other person doesn’t know or they can be more experienced and knowledgeable. You, therefore stay connected and are well informed, in that way you become stronger and can achieve more.”