Zimbabwe Fashion Collaborations AW24: The Eth and MO come together to celebrate environmental heroes

Mapako and More collaborating on a ‘fashion with substance’ collection that honours our own – the BLACK collection is arguably the most profound release of Autumn/Winter 2024.

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Fashion should not be reduced to just self-expression or ‘looking cool’ – it’s way more than that. Fashion can be a medium to communicate issues that matter, and that resonate with the masses.

At its inception, Ngaatendwe Mapako founded The Eth as an environmentally-conscious brand that seeks to speak on concepts that impact us all by virtue of the environment that we all exist as a part of.

The famous E-bag by The Eth

For Autumn/Winter 2024, the burgeoning brand has collaborated with MO, Bryan Zenda More’s brainchild, to deliver BLACK: a history in the making, a collection set to raise awareness of the names that are championing environmental justice in our time.

The collection was introduced to the world on March 3, born from a shared passion for honouring black history in a fresh and impactful manner.

More revealed that the initial concept emerged from a desire to commemorate Black History Month uniquely. Upon presenting the idea to The Eth’s creative director Mapako, both parties embarked on a creative journey fuelled by a mutual commitment to celebrating black culture in an authentic and meaningful way.

“The collaboration started as an idea for Black History Month which I wanted to do, and if you remember, Ngaa (Mapako) dropped a black tote bag for Black History Month last year.

Bryan ‘More’ Zenda for The Eth at the seventh Fabrik Party, circa March 2023.

“So, I approached him asking if I could help him with this year’s Black History Month, but in a way that has never been done before. Ngaa being a fellow connoisseur of black culture; he was game for it and we immediately got to work,” said More.

The collection BLACK: a history in the making is indeed one collection to look out for because of its uniqueness in spreading the gospel of heroism from the perspective of environmental consciousness.

Collaborations have always been a better approach to Zimbabwe’s complicated fashion landscape, as Mapako, also lead designer of rising brand Guided Youth, understands.

“It was a ‘why not’ kind of situation. My approach is usually that of learner trying to understand and make sense of my experiences. So, it’s essential to collaborate with someone equally curious and with new ideas. At the same time being a learner, I’ve come to understand the vastness of knowledge and how you can’t keep it all to yourself.

“So, sharing that with someone I’ve already worked with before seemed necessary since as creatives, part of our service is inspiring each other, intentionally or not. It’s like a free service,” described Mapako, as he painted a picture of how the collaboration with More came about.

More echoed the ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ approach to building brands, as he expressed his delight about working with The Eth;

“Collaborating is better than competition, I always say. Working with The Eth has been an absolute pleasure because I grew up on it, from the first collection the brand dropped. I even modelled for The Eth at the seventh Fabrik Party held at First Floor Gallery last March.

“So, it’s a brand I’ve always loved, and to get the chance to work with; it is amazing. For me, as a new individual getting into the game, it’s amazing because I get to work with an experienced big brother who tells you what to do and how to do it. It’s been an eye-opening experience and it’s amazing.”

Whether deliberate or coincidental, the collaborators released the first two pieces of their collection on 3 March, which is Africa Environment Day; established by the African Union in 2002 for the same reason – raising awareness of the environmental challenges facing Africa.

The very same day is Wangari Maathai Day, and rightfully so; the Kenyan environmental activist features as the first name that Mapako and More have decided to honour.

The late Maathai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement – an NGO focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 2004, she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Her image prominently features at the back of the t-shirt, together with her words;

“You can make a lot of speeches, but the real thing is when you dig a hole, plant a tree, give it water, and make it survive. That’s what makes the difference.”

The second piece features Ron Finley, an American fashion designer who is a staunch advocate for urban gardening.

The quote chosen for the BLACK collection reflects Finley’s guerrilla gardening ideology;

“I’m an artist. Gardening is my graffiti. I grow my art. I use the garden soil like it’s a piece of cloth, and the plants and the trees, that’s my embellishment of that cloth. You’d be surprised what the soil can do if you let it be your canvas.”

In the front, the name of the collection is prominently placed, together with colourful details of both brand names – cleverly put sitting on the L letter from BLACK.

Most will see this and think it’s just slapping pictures on a t-shirt, but if you’re an ardent student of Black history; you will appreciate the creative process that went into the BLACK collection, as well as what it means in the bigger picture.

“The collection addresses a number of such related issues in different forms. It can be like a conversation between the old and young Black and Brown folks to address the progress and contribution, that throughout history, Blacks continue making to better the global environment at large.

“It can be a reminder to value Black knowledge/indigenous knowledge systems and bring up conversations around them for awareness and action. A way to find a way forward while reinstalling that Black pride among people of colour. Because no among of good-looking clothes will make you more comfortable if you’re not confident in your own skin,” as Mapako explains.

But that’s not the end of it. The duo exclusively revealed to Mcheno And More that they are plotting to continue introducing other names that constitute the Black series as the season trudges on.

More concludes with this teaser;

“Well the collection Black History in the making, so there’s two things. Firstly, the collection is out now and in store and ready to order and secondly, it’s a collection in the making. So, from the collection we already have pieces which are out and in store and we also have more on the way.”

Mapako and More collaborating on a ‘fashion with substance’ collection that honours our own – the BLACK collection is arguably the most profound release of Autumn/Winter 2024.

We are keen to see what Bryan More will deliver on his own, as we are even more expectant to see Ngaatendwe Mapako lead us towards an environmental revolution through fashion.

You can stay up to date with The Eth and MO via Instagram.

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