Next week South Africa will be hosting one of the biggest fashion shows in Africa, the Mercedez Benz Fashion Week Africa and Mai Atafo will be one of the two Nigerian designer showcasing at the event.
GQ South Africa got to chat with Mai Atafo in preparation for the event and Mai talks about his brand as well as his forthcoming Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
He also talks about some of the biggest crimes of fashion he often sees men committing and how he would change them.
Read excerpts from his interview below!
GQ: Talk us through some of the finer nuances of your collection. What are you most excited to show?
Mai: From my SS15 collection I am very excited about the use of soft colours, which tell a relatable fashion story that is very in line with the core essence of my menswear brand. I believe this collection will drive a new trend in menswear. I have always been of the opinion that men can wear colours and look amazing. However, that said I am actually more excited about the womenswear. It takes inspiration from traditional native menswear from the south-south region of Nigeria, with some womenswear influences from south-west and northern parts of Nigeria.
GQ: What is the most African thing about your collection?
Mai: The heart of the designer is that of the collection.
GQ: Why, in your personal opinion, is it important to represent Africa through design?
Mai: I just believe it helps us tell our own story – that may be African or European influenced, but it’s important that we are able to tell our own stories.
GQ: Where do you, as a designer, draw the line between an authentic African aesthetic and something that is too cliche or typically ‘Curio’?
Mai: I really do not know what or if there is an authentic African aesthetic, and I do not believe there should be defining lines in fashion. If you feel, comprehend, and can, then design it. Express yourself. As long as the consumers derive value from it.
GQ: What are the biggest crimes of fashion you often see men committing and how would you change them?
Mai: Ill-fitting clothes, especially tight suits under the guise of a “fitted” suit (this kills me). I will continue to preach the gospel of a well-tailored “fitted suit” that accentuates the male form and not one that cuts off blood circulation. With my recently received Savile Row academy certification, the next step will be to allow Africa to experience not just the amazing look, but the comfortable feel of a Mai Atafo inspired bespoke suit.