Elsa Gashema is an Auckland local who has started a fledgling fashion label. In a sense Elsa captures the spirit and diversity happening in Auckland right now, and it’s a fantastic thing to see happen. I like that there is a fashion sense and sensibility outside the prescribed norm. So what I’m going to do over the next few days, is post a few images from a shoot I did with Elsa and her friends – each day. Says Elsa, “Mafrique fashion represents the land of Kenya in Aotearoa”. There is a little Q&A below, and a little about her label Mafrique.
Tell me a little about yourself - how did you come to be in NZ ?
My family and I came through the refugee system and have been here for 10 years.
If you can sum up Mafrique what would it be ?
Mafrique Fashion brings people together, lets them experience a part of the Kenyan culture, different fabrics and handmade goods. As a team we are hoping to showcase to Kiwis and people worldwide who purchase our products an alternative way to embrace vibrant colors, our sense of fashion and look unique.
What sort of audience are you aiming for with your clothing ?
Anyone who is interested in looking fabulous whether they are going for a casual look or want to dress up. Our products are made using natural resources and intricate craftsmanship to ensure the distinct Mafrique look.
NZ fashion is often seen as understated, or even a little dark. A generalisation of course, but do you agree?
I do and our aim is to be a part of events such as NZ fashion week to bring a whole lot of colour and another angle to fashion as a whole.
Do you see your clothes as 'African fashion' or just your own take on clothes?
We have different looks in our products as we understand people are all different. We have traditional Maasai clothes and also what we design from our perception of fashion. Ultimately, our clothes are old school and modern to bring both generations together through fashion.
Any thoughts on NZ society? It is quite diverse in Auckland now, but anything we could be doing better?
What we have noticed is that there are dominating colors worn such as black and grey so we are getting one person at a time inserting color to their normal outfits whether it be through our beaded jewelry, sandals, bags or clothes.
What is the goal for Mafrique?
The goal is to have a Mafrique Fashion product in every household which will result to making it a go-to brand in the NZ fashion scene.
7. Give us favourite film of yours and a favourite novel.
Fave film-Nairobi half life
Fave Novel-First sight by Danielle steel.