Taibo Bacar, the Mozambican born fashion designer is considered one of the leading designers in Africa. The son of a seamstress, Taibo grew up around the sounds of sewing machines, fabrics and the design sketches that he drew for some of his mother’s clients so it’s no surprise he progressed from having a career in IT to pursue one as a fashion designer.
The brand has won many African and international awards and was the first African brand to showcase at Milan Fashion Week.
He recently showcased at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT), with a collection that was influenced by the ethnic background of Mozambique. We had a quick chat with Taibo Bacar discussing how the journey started, his MBFWCT 2017 collection, his take on the African Fashion Industry and where he thinks the brand his heading.
What drew you towards the fashion industry?
My mum was a seamstress, so I grew up surrounded by fabrics, sewing machines and models. I use to make the drawings for my mum so the clients could understand the dresses. I was attracted by creativity from a very tender age.
What are the pros and cons of being in the fashion industry at the moment?
To be able to live and have an income doing what I love is the best reward. The most difficult is all that we have to give up, social life and to have our minds fully committed on the business.
The Taibo Bacar label was launched in 2008 and has been well received throughout the world how does this feel to be able to achieve so much in such a short space of time?
It all the depends on the point of view , for us it doesn’t feel like a short space of time and we are not even close to where we want to get , on a scale of 1 to 10 , I think we still at 1 in terms of achieving our goals.
After so many awards like, Paris Emerging Designer of the Year and many successful shows, what has been your favourite moment so far?
One of my favorite moments was The conference in Rome- Conde Nast International Luxury Conference – where we did an exposition at the entrance hall in 2012, I was able to meet the most influential people in fashion industry , like Valentino and the late Franca sozzani.
What kind of support did you have when you started?
Thankfully I had a lot of moral support from my family , my mom and my siblings , friends. Financially it has always been myself and Tatiana Ismael , my business partner .
What would you say is the aesthetics of your label is?
Feminine, elegant, simple and comfort.
You are among in the top 10 Africa’s Best designers, how do you feel about this title?
Super humbled and honoured .
What was the inspiration for the MBFWCT 2017 collection and what kind of feedback did you get on the collection?
The were influenced by our ethnic background; from our traditional customs to our lively dances and ever-shifting cultural movements. The collection was inspired by the strength of the modern woman and passionately driven by the love we feel for our grandmothers, mothers, and sisters.
A vibrant collection, which celebrates Mozambique, and our integration within global society whilst preserving our unique identity. We received very good reviews , people seem to be impressed and received the collection very well .
Tell us a little about your choice in the beautiful fabrics that you use?
It is a Fall/Winter collection , so we used richer fabrics in terms or texture , with thicker fibers , we used a lot of brocades , jacquard, buclé , thick laces , a little bit of velvet for the details .
For the accessories we used straw, Our people here in Mozambique use it to make basket for the market , brooms, rugs , carpets and other decoration products. So we transferred that to the chokers, the umbrella , the sleepers , also the little bags are made of straw as well .
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There are ups and downs in most businesses. The fashion industry is infamous for being so fast paced. What was your most difficult challenge and how did you overcome it?
Hmm, probably the fact that there isn’t a fashion industry set up in Mozambique was the most challenging thing. When I started we had in Maputo few shops selling fabrics, not a great variety or quality, no textile industry, no fashion courses, no fashion oriented marketing, photography or model agencies. So basically I had a dream of becoming a designer in a place where it was almost impossible because of lack of infrastructure, education, network and industry. Nowadays that reality is changing as you can find more and more fashion related business and services, but it is still very poor compared to many other countries.
Where do you think African fashion is right now and where would you like to see it within the next 5 years?
I believe it is in a place with great potential, the rest of the world has their eyes on us , we have amazing African brands doing amazing things and placing their product on an international level . I prefer not to have any thoughts regarding that, 5 years ago I tried to have this thought, and today I surprise myself everyday even more. In 5 years I will be surprised again.
Do you have any advice for young enthusiasts looking to break into the industry?
Be true to yourselves and work very hard for your goals.
Do you have any future plans for after designing?
Lol , retire and live a life stress-free in a beautiful beach .
Your top five key winter wardrobe staples?
A coat , a good pair of stockings , comfortable boots ,turtle neck , and a leather jacket