I tessuti africani, sopratutto quelli a stampa Wax, conosciuti a livello internazionale per essere coloratissimi e resistenti, sono stati e sono tutt'ora una grande fonte di ispirazione per i brand occidentali di tutto il mondo. C'e un marchio di Addis Abeba che cerca invece di invertire la rotta, ovvero proporre lo stile etiope non solo per i vestiti tradizionali, ma anche per capi utili tutti i giorni. Il brand si chiama Fozia Endrias™ e noi abbiamo intervistato la designer.
Tell us about yourself. When and how did you start your designer's career?
I am Fozia Endrias from Addis Ababa Ethiopia. I grew up with my grandmother and aunties which has given me the strength and inspiration to believe in woman, follow my heart and do whatever I do truthfully and consciously. I have graduated in Architecture from the countries well known university, Addis Ababa University, EiABC in 2013. When I started working on architectural firm, I always wanted to study fashion because I felt like it was in me since my childhood but I never had the chance neither to explore nor to work on it. Then I joined a fashion school in 2016. It was only a one year program and it was a really successful one for me. We finish the school with a competition and I was the one who won that competition which helped me a lot in getting into the media and get connections to start my brand.
The brand, FOZIA ENDRIAS, was established in 2017. It is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We work on sustainable fashion products; casual wears and accessories, mostly using Ethiopian cotton and produced by women. About 85% of our materials are sourced locally.
I believe in the power of humanity, time, and creativity. Thus the brand’s core values are tied with these three elements. Humanity is where it starts - the belief that we have to exist for all the others to make sense. We have to be conscious about the things we do, think about the generations to come and the world at-large. We believe that sustainability is the issue of humanity. Thus, we are creating consciousness about our surroundings and giving thought to what we do and how we do it. This thought contributes to the safe-being of our planet and the human race. Our actions reflect the time period we live in now, and they will be the basis for the next era to come.
I draw inspiration from my surrounding environment, especially the non-physical elements. As an art form, I believe in fashion’s power to express ideas, capture the existing time and situation, and ability to promote and preserve the traditions of a society.
Which practical obstacles did you met in your early days?
The biggest obstacle was finance when I started working. If you want to get a business registration and license in Ethiopia, you need to rent a place at first. So, that made it a bit difficult to start the work. The availability of materials was and still is a big issue. We can’t find the right type of fabrics and yarns for our designs. And even if you find it once, you may not get it the second time you return to that shop. The other thing is that my approach to the design is new to the country so it is a struggle to get in to the market.
Fashion as a bridge between different cultures. The purpose of your brand is really daring, tell us well your intent and your next goals.
It has been about three years since I started working on fashion. Yet, I had spent most of the times trying to find myself in the industry, experimenting on different designs, materials and fabrics. I took some time trying to understand what I’m good at, who I want to be as a fashion designer and what I want to contribute to the world. My background in architecture always plays a great role in my thinking and has shaped the way I look at my surrounding. So I studied my surrounding, sourcing, fabrics and kept my eye and heart open to learn from everything. That’s when I learnt about the beauty of the cotton; natural fabrics in the Ethiopian traditional clothes. Then I fell in love with it. I know that all Ethiopians love their traditional things. But I don’t think they see it the way I do. The most important thing I’ve learnt from our ancestors is how they use the natural fabrics, and hand crafts.
I believe that the traditional clothes that people wear occasionally now were the day to day outfits of ancient times with a bit of different touches. I love the fact that people used to wear outfits that were made of natural fabrics and beautiful handcrafts without contributing to the pollution and climate change of the environment. Getting inspired by this, I want to work on casual wears, which do not just represent Ethiopia, but which will also tell stories and do not or contribute to the unhealthy environment of the world. I like to work on sustainable fashion, teach people that the traditional outfits are not just beautiful, colorful outfits, rather they are conscious designs that contribute to the wellbeing of the world.
Our goal is to produce sustainable, high quality, casual and customized, made in Ethiopia products that are made by Ethiopian women that can compete internationally, making their own best contribution for the acknowledging, spreading the countries culture and contribute to the country’s economy.
How does the Ethiopian public live your idea of revisiting traditional clothes? Do they appreciate?
There are people who really appreciate our work but most people here don’t. Not a lot of people know about the issue of sustainability, the value of using natural fabrics, and sadly the craftsmanship of the art of the dresses they wear. They only see the traditional clothes as something traditional, which can be worn in holidays or special events. They fail to see the other good qualities of it. So it is a struggle to get in to market. But that is why we do what wo do. To educate people and to also educate ourselves from others experiences. We actually have seen the difference since we have started working; we have more Ethiopian customers than we had two years ago.
Alcune foto @ Hub Of Africa Fashion Week 2019
All images © Fozia Endrias™
More info: Fozia Endrias™