We are shaking things up a little today and taking you straight from the Urban Fashion category to Fashion Designer ahead of the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards scheduled for 28 April which we’re proud media partners for. Today we catch up with Paida Fundira, co-founder of the contemporary African wear fashion line Chenai, and talk fashion, Shingai Shoniwa and being proudly Zimbabwean.

As we continue to bring you our exclusive interviews with all the nominees, don’t forget to visit the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards website to purchase your tickets for the event at the prestigious The Grange Tower Hill and to view and vote for nominees in fashion and all other categories.

Tell us a little about your label and its history?

Chenai evolved from the desire to celebrate the unique cultures and beauty of Africa. Having always lived in London, it wasn’t uncommon to feel that Africa was often poorly received and perceived. I wanted to challenge the negative connotations associated with our origins, and highlight the richness and culture Africa has which is often overlooked. I felt that the best way to do this was through a means I felt passionate about and that was fashion. Fusing together my love for Africa, Zimbabwe in particular, and passion for fashion, Chenai was born.

 Have you got a new collection in the works? If so, what can we expect from this collection?

We do indeed! Expect to see heavenly fabrics, adorned with fabulous vivid colour. Our new collection features a lot of tailored and classic pieces, but with a touch of edge.

What kind of woman would wear Chenai creations?

The woman that wears Chenai is young, cheeky and flirtatious. She is confident in herself and appreciates well placed accents of colour.  She is someone who is aware of her cultural background and is eager to retain and promote her identity, yet is also fully integrated within the western cultural society. She is someone who isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd!

Where do you draw your inspirations from?

Our collection draws inspiration from a range of sources. I’m heavily influenced by my travels and music and i also draw inspirations from concepts I see editorially.

Who are some of the brand ambassadors?

We don’t actually have any brand ambassadors as yet, but this is something we are looking into in the future. Who do FAB think should be our brand ambassadors?

And who would you like to see wearing the Chenai label?

I love Shingai Shoniwa and Rhianna’s personal style, and would love to see them rocking Chenai one day! Their eccentric style just exudes confidence, and it’s often really their confidence that makes their looks super fly.

Many people shy away from the bright shades, asymmetrical shapes, and interesting patterns; yet Shingai in particular embraces them like it’s second nature.  Everything from the way she styles her hair to the way she assembles an outfit is distinct and original.  She is one of fashion’s biggest risk takers that always comes out winning!

Where can fans of the brand buy your creations?

We currently take orders via email, however our online store will launching next month so you will be able to buy the collection online from the comfort of your home!

How does it feel being nominated in the fashion category of the ZAAs and what would it mean to win this award?

I feel proud, honoured, excited, and grateful. So many emotions rolled into one!

Zimbabwe is so close to my heart, and represents who I am as an individual. To be recognised within the community on such a scale with a nomination is an achievement in itself but it would mean the absolute world to win. Kind of like a pat on the back from the Zimbabwean community, to say we have seen what you are doing and love it!

What’s next in 2012 and beyond for Chenai?

We have plans to start selling our stock in boutiques internationally, so 2012 should see Chenai available at a store near you! We’ll be styling an upcoming girl group, who are supporting a major artist on her international tour, so that is an exciting collaboration for both of us. We can’t say too much until everything is confirmed, so again, watch this space!

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