Zimbabwe: Zim Fashion Designer Gets Dutch Recognition

Senior Arts Writer

Zimbabwean fashion designer and Pfeka Fashion House founder Eglet Mtengwa-Nyabvure has made history after she was recognised by the Archives Centre of the City of Almere in Holland because of her fashion design exploits in a recent project highlighting immigrant women.

Mtengwa-Nyabvure said in an interview with The Herald Arts that she was also included in a regional TV series that highlighted success stories of immigrant women in their country of origin, as well as in their second home, The Netherlands.

"I am a trained engineer, specifically in telecommunication and audio visual design and implementation. For the past 16 years or so, I was making some remarkable strides up the corporate ladder, but a couple of years ago I grew a deep passion in fashion," she said.

"I had a desire to wear valuable, slow fashionable clothes with a meaning, story and an identity embedded into it; clothes influenced by Africa.

"Because I couldn't find what I really wanted, I then decided to start drawing and designing something that suit my tastes, and that heralded my fashion design journey. I am happy to be rewarded for something that I am really passionate about. The listing in the Archives Centre of the City of Almere for me is a precursor of bigger things to come."

Mtengwa-Nyabvure said the milestone didn't come easy as it was her dream to represent Zimbabwean fashion at the international stage.

"The recent accolade and archiving of my work came after I decided to design and wear something typical Zimbabwean for the immigrant women project," she said.

"I could not just use the general African prints for my clothes, I had to find a fabric specific for Zimbabwe and this gave me a very good challenge to come up with something unique.

"I then designed and produced a fabric inspired by the Great Zimbabwe, a beautiful mix of the history, and the Zimbabwean flag which carries patterns and colours with a deep meaning and representation. This caught the eye of the Dutch as it highlighted how I have embraced my culture and still created a clothing line suitable for diverse people and cultures.

"I have been nominated as one of the remarkable Dutch-Zimbabwean women of this generation and I am proud that my story is now archived in the Archives Centre of the City of Almere."

Mutengwa-Nyabvure believes being true to her passion has carried the day for her, but her hope is to achieve success in her home country, Zimbabwe.

"For me, it's the story of being authentic, being yourself and never underestimating your personal experiences as that makes you unique and powerful," she said.

"I love what I am doing with the Pfeka fashion label and it is my hope that the brand will become a household name in Zimbabwe and beyond.

"I am proud to have both Dutch and Zimbabwean roots and my designs incorporate the two countries' unique cultures as seen through the project that led to the recent honour I received."

The Pfeka brand founder said her fashion house was bringing a whole new feel and fusion that will bring a certain kind of freedom to fashion lovers.

"Pfeka is bringing clothes with a meaning, story and an identity embedded into them -- clothes influenced by Africa and suitable for everyday wear, including for work and for formal meetings without being too standing out of place," said Mtengwa-Nyabvure.

"It's high quality modern wear with a subtle touch of the African patterns. African prints available are generally too bright and with quite bold patterns, which is good in other settings, but we are bringing a mix of these bold prints and the conservative Western style to create a unique and subtle statement."

Mtengwa-Nyabvure said her brand was meant to plug an existing gap in the fashion industry.

"I saw the gap and the interest from other people who asked me to design unique pieces and this made it easy for me to start the brand Pfeka, an African- inspired clothing brand which tells stories and carries meanings inspired by Africa," she said.

"At first I was using any African prints that came my way, but I started to select only prints which reflect the true meaning of Africa, such as the beautiful landscapes, the wild animals, nature, history and the like and this brought some uniqueness to my work."

Mutengwa-Nyabvure said although she has embraced being a Dutch-Zimbabwean woman, she remains proud of her roots.

"I embraced the fact that I am living two cultures now, being Dutch and being an African, a Zimbabwean to be specific, so I made sure to mix the two worlds in my clothing brand," she said.

"I believe that it is very important to tell the African stories as well as preserve them for future references and generations."

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