Visions for New Africa feat. Ozwald Boateng

Ozwald Boateng is a British menswear designer of Ghanian origin who has redefined British tailor-made menswear with vibrant color combinations and modern slim silhouettes. He is a visionary who follows his passion and achieves his goals.

Ozwald Boateng. Source:  Website  of Jamie Morgan (Photographer)

Ozwald Boateng. Source: Website of Jamie Morgan (Photographer)

His achievements are many: he was the first tailor to showcase his collection at Paris Fashion Week in 1994; he was the first menswear designer with an African origin to open a boutique on Savile Row (London's prestigious district known for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men) in 1995; he was appointed Creative Director for LVMH's Givenchy brand from 2004 to 2007; and he also received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II for "An Outstanding Contribution to the Clothing Industry" in 2006.

From the collection in 2013. Source:  Realtime Fix Blog .

From the collection in 2013. Source: Realtime Fix Blog.

From SS'12 Collection. Source:  Usanii Afrika

From SS'12 Collection. Source: Usanii Afrika

Having achieved a successful career in European fashion, Ozwald now has a larger vision beyond fashion and more focused on the continent of his origin, Africa. In 2011, Ozwald founded Made In Africa Foundation in collaboration with Kola Aluko, a Nigerian energy tycoon, and Atlantic Energy, a Nigerian energy company. The foundation's mission is "to fund Masterplans, Feasibility Studies and other project preparation works for successful infrastructure projects in Africa" (from the foundation's website). 

In an NPR interview, Ozwald explained his passion and rationale behind his new project: "[O]ne of the issues of unlocking those potentials (of natural resources) is no one's ready to put the first dollar into the feasibility plan or the master planning of any project, be it an urban development, road or rail. [...] [W]e believe that raising $400 million to be spent on master planning and feasibility studies for infrastructure will create $100 billion of projects across the continent. And that will effectively create about a trillion dollars of value, and that will add another 2 percent of GDP onto the continent and lift about 200 million people out of poverty."

But how did a fashion designer get into the infrastructure business? His answer is quite simple: he simply wants to open his stores on the African continent. His passion for fashion and Africa is driving him to work on much larger-scale projects, and he has the capacity and connections to make things happen.

Every designer has a creative vision. But we love that many designers with African origins have a vision beyond designs and fashion. Like Ozwald, some designers want to contribute to the economic growth of the African continent. Others want to create something that uniquely represents their cultural origins. At Maki & Mpho, we want to be a platform where people can experience a taste of new Africa, and we are committed to delivering a delightful surprise. Stay tuned!

To learn more about Ozwald's vision, check out Bloomberg Africa's documentary.

 

World Cup Edition: The Winning Jersey!

Whether or not you are a "football" enthusiast who is ready to prioritize the World Cup games over your work like some of our friends from Europe, Latin America, or Africa, we believe that there are ways for anyone to enjoy the World Cup, one of the biggest fiestas in the world. One way to get ready for the matches is to check out the teams' official jerseys! From the African continent, five countries have qualified; Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria.

Before looking closely at their jerseys, let's cover fun facts about the World Cup related to jersey design. First who designs those jerseys? Out of all 32 teams, Nike sponsors 10 teams followed by adidas and Puma which sponsors 9 teams and 8 teams respectively (and the remaining teams are sponsored by smaller brands which sponsors one team each). As for the African teams, Puma beats the other two big brands: Puma sponsors four qualified teams except the Nigerian team, which is sponsored by adidas. Puma is majority-owned by the fashion/lifestyle brand conglomerate, Kering whose portfolio includes Gucci and Saint Laurent, so maybe we can expect their teams' jerseys to be uniquely-designed and stylish! So let's take a look at the home jerseys of the five qualified African teams.

Algeria: 3 Appearances, 0 Titles, #22 in the FIFA ranking 

Algerian team home jersey. Source:  Footy Headlines .

Algerian team home jersey. Source: Footy Headlines.

Cameroon: 6 Appearances, 0 Titles, #56 in the FIFA ranking

Cameroonian team home jersey. Source:  Footy Headlines .

Cameroonian team home jersey. Source: Footy Headlines.

Cote d'Ivoire: 2 Appearances, 0 Titles, #23 in the FIFA ranking

Cote d'Ivorian home jersey. Source: Footy Headlines.

Cote d'Ivorian home jersey. Source: Footy Headlines.

Ghana: 2 Appearances, 0 Titles, #37 in the FIFA ranking

Ghanian team home jersey. Source:  Footy Headlines .

Ghanian team home jersey. Source: Footy Headlines.

Nigeria: 4 Appearances, 0 Titles, #44 in the FIFA ranking

Nigerian team home jersey. Source:  Footy Headlines .

Nigerian team home jersey. Source: Footy Headlines.

The Cameroonian jersey stands out because of the prints and the use of bright colors like green and yellow. We also like how they used red to accentuate the neck and shoulder lines. We feel that the Nigerian jersey is least unique. While the use of green can remind us of their national flag, the overall design lacks a strong and memorable visual appeal. Out of two white home jerseys, we think that the Ghanian jersey design has a bold message while the Algerian jersey looks too simple. The print on the Ghanian jersey is a fun element, but the prints could have been used in a different way.

The author's personal favorite is the Cote d'Ivorian jersey. The jersey has the best combination of being bold and having subtle and detailed designs, which also echoes to Maki & Mpho's design philosophy. This bold yellow color will surely stand out on the green of the football pitch. At the same time, details like the subtle prints on the shoulders and the front patch in the shape of the country are the key elements that empower both players and the fans. 

Unfortunately, none of the African qualifiers have won a title yet, but let's see how far the African teams go this year!! Maki & Mpho will equally be supporting all the teams from the African continent (regardless of your jersey designs)!

Tell us which one is your favorite!