Q & A with Fashion Brand Denzil Mapfumo

Denzil Mapfumo

Portsmouth, England based designer

MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

After graduating from Middlesex University London in 2017 with BA Fashion Design, I moved back to Portsmouth and launched the brand in 2018. Born in Zimbabwe but based in Portsmouth England, the brand is heavily influenced by the idea of melding the two cultures together. I would describe my style as clean, detailed and fun. A lot of references from my childhood in Zimbabwe aim to channel a youthful spirit of nostalgia. I like to create thoughtful and effortless clothes that blur the lines of gender and sexuality.

MM: What sparked your interest in fashion design?

I have always been a creative person with a very wild imagination. Around high school is when I really decided to pursue fashion. I remember seeing a McQueen collection on TV and being blown away by what I was seeing coming down the runway and I knew I wanted to be able to do the same. The ability to be able to build a conversation around clothes whilst exploring different issues and topics is what interested me the most.

My love for music, film, and art also played a big part in my decision to pursue fashion. Artists like Peter Blake , Shepard Fairey and Robert Rauschenberg were big influences during my art A levels. I admired their ability to be able to take political and cultural statements but then present them in a witty, playful and light-hearted way.

MM: Can you describe your creative process?

My approach to designing focuses mainly on the pattern making but the process usually starts with identifying the type of person or character I am designing for. Then I build the story around that boy or girl, where are they going and what do they do. I find that with most of my clothes being gender-fluid, the process differs with every project and idea. Sometimes the inspiration is very focused on a theme or concept and other times it's more about trying to convey a vibe and an attitude.  

MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

The story-telling, the connections you can build with people, and being able to create a conversation. There is something very freeing and liberating about being able to express how you feel through clothes.

MM: How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

Being based in Portsmouth instead of London has its ups and downs, at times being outside of London you can feel very isolated from what is happening in the world of fashion, which can make it hard to network and meet other creative people. Resources and diversity in creative talent can be limited in Portsmouth but what I do love is the pace and ease. It is very laid back here and this really allows me to take my time refining my style and aesthetic with no rush or distractions. If I had to say where I feel more connected to, I would say home will always be Zimbabwe, I feel more at peace when I'm there.

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MM: In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?

I'm looking forward to getting to tell my story and seeing all the hard work finally come together. I am also very excited to meet all the other designers and see the collections they've been working on.

MM: What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

I don't want to give too much away yet but the collection is called Brothels & Bottle Stores a tragic love story of absurd proportions!

MM: What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for the first time)?

I just hope they feel the love and soul I've put into this collection.

Thank you for speaking with us Denzil. We look forward to seeing your brand on the VFW runway this October.

Photos contributed.

@denzilmapfumo