Q&A with Ati Nwai

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I met with the graceful beauty, Ati Nwai, at her design studio in Port Elizabeth. This talented local designer creates striking outfits for women and has recently started making kids clothing too. In this Q&A feature, Ati shares her perspective on the meaning of fashion and how she stays inspired to design beautiful clothing…

What would you describe as the common thread evident in Ati Designs and how do you maintain this vision?

It starts with inspiration from daily life, e.g. I take notice when something as simple as a lip colour and/or hairstyle catches my eye.  I also am particular with the choice of fabric used in my designs and love to challenge myself, using techniques such as fabric manipulation. I like to incorporate the use of texture and colour, for instance making use of pleats or origami applique on garments. The use of Xhosa beads is another aspect that appeals to me. The common thread would therefore be a combination of all I’ve mentioned.

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How do you define fashion? What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion to me is all about personal branding. Branding yourself with the outfit choices you make. The outside world can get to know you without having to say a word. My personal choice for dress is comfort first, without a doubt. If I’m not comfortable it doesn’t make sense.

What sets apart African Fashion Design from other parts of the world?

Africa has a lot of influence and the rest of the world is absorbing a lot of Africa. African prints have been consistently present, on international platforms, for say the past 9 years. A lot of African designers are recognised internationally for example Maxhosa by Laduma. I am inspired by designers like him who pushes authenticity.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Confidence is the key ingredient. When a woman has confidence in herself, it allows for uniqueness to blossom.

Which living person do you admire most?

My husband; he inspires me in so many ways and is very supportive.  He understands me and always encourages me during tough times. He’s my best friend.

For more of Ati’s designs check out her Instagram feed; Instagram handle is @atinwai

Photos courtesy of Ati Designs

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