Mimi Plange: African Inspired and now African Made
New York-based designer Mimi Plange is a graduate of the San Francisco Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and holds a degree in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. This combination is not surprising when looking at the Accra-born designer’s upbringing in California: the daughter of a model (often seen in Ghanaian magazine Drum) who explored her love of fashion through sketching, under the guidance of an architect uncle.
Mimi launched her eponymous, ready-to-wear line in 2010 and has received acclaim for her work in the fashion industry, winning such accolades as International Emerging Designer of the Year in 2011 at the Mercedes-Benz Africa Fashion Week held in South Africa. A year later she was named Designer of the Year. She also won Mayor Bloomberg’s Design Entrepreneurs Award in New York in 2012.
Guided by the principle she refers to as “The Democratization of Luxury”, Mimi Plange offers clothes that are very much inspired by the modern American luxury sportswear tradition, with an infusion of dark romance and aimed at the new, international and democratically-minded luxury consumer. An aesthetic appreciated by celebrity clients such as First Lady Michelle Obama, Vanessa Hudgens, Serena Williams, Rihanna, Paris Hilton, Michelle Trachtenberg and Janelle Monae.
Often drawing inspiration from Africa, Mimi constantly seeks out the unusual and the lyrical found in African traditions, landscapes and lore, and those themes appear often in pieces and collections. Finally, with the correct partners (the ITC’s Ethical Fashion Initiative) Mimi has added African production to the brand bio, with a new handbag collection currently being fabricated in Ethiopia. The designer shares,
I’ve always wanted to develop and design in Africa. It’s been a goal from the very start. I’ve always known that the types of garments and accessories that I wanted to develop would have a distinctive quality that could not be obtained anywhere else. The level of hands on craftsmanship and creativity is the best in the world.
This doesn’t mean she’ll be leaving ‘made in New York‘ behind, but rather adding to the brand’s options and offerings:
The same way we believe in making our garments in NYC, we believe in contributing to the work of artisans and supporting a sustainable environment for production where the economy can prosper and people are paid fairly for the work that they do.
Mimi Plange has an eye on growth for the future and plans to become the lifestyle brand that excites customers and makes them curious about African inspirations they may not have considered before. Says Mimi,
We want to do more collaborations with amazing brands and create products that have a positive impact around the world. We’d love to eventually become completely vertical and own our own factories in different countries and continue to produce not only for our brand but for other brands as well.
And if you want one of the new handcrafted, made in Africa Mimi Plange handbags, get in line.
Want to learn more? Mimi Plange will be joining an evening of conversation on sustainability with seven other esteemed fashion brands at the EcoSessions: Fashion x Africa mini-conference on May 2 from 7-10 pm at FIT’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre. Admission is free and open to all, register here. #fashionxAfrica