‘Malawi’s fashion industry is on the rise’

Over the years, several urban artists have launched their products on the market, taking advantage of their fame in music. Rapper Fredokiss launched his Ntchana accessories line, gospel ace Faith Mussa launched Mdidi clothing line while hip-hop impresario Tay Grin launched his Chipapapa Fruity drinks. Now, gospel artist Thocco Phiri, who is also a seasoned camera operator, floor manager and graphic designer for Shepherd Bushiri’s Prophetic Channel, has partaken a fresh record—fashion. Our correspondent MPHATSO CHIWALA (MC) engages Phiri (TP) to get more about his fashion craze.

Phiri: My main inspiration comes from my spiritual father Prophet Shepherd Bushiri

M

C: Before we talk much about this clothing line, you located to South Africa’s economic capital, Johannesburg in 2010. How can people relate you in gospel music?

T

P: I am a songwriter and gospel singer. However, I am also a season editor for Shepherd Bushiri’s Prophetic Channel and sometimes I take the role of a floor manager during live services shooting session. I have popular songs such as Mukhale Nane, Yesu ndi Ambuye and I have collaborated with Christ Melodies in Ndimvereni, Piksy in Wochimwa and Atumwi in Zatheka.

M

C: Congratulations for starting a fashion label. What is the name of your clothing line?

T

P: The brand name is John 14:6 or (Cordilia Angel). It’s a Christian luxury brand that’s why am using a verse from the Bible John 14:6 which says. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

M

C: What motivated you?

T

P: I’d say fashion, I was born with it. I started when I was young, at the age of six. However, my personal motivation for getting into the fashion industry is mainly my love for designing and the fact that I love clothes. I always had very particular ideas on what I wanted to wear and very often I couldn’t find clothes I liked, so I would design my own and convince printing companies to print them for me.

M

C: Do you have other celebrities which are marketing your products, both local and international?

T

P: Basically, Phummy Shalvah one of the biggest Gospel artists in South Africa has already started marketing the brand. I was surprised the day she was recording her live DVD in South Africa. She ordered T-shirts for her whole band. And, back home I am working on other modalities to reach out to the masses.

M

C: Where are you producing them?

T

P: We are making these in Italy and China. We also had promotional pieces which will be available in Malawi soon. I have vast knowledge in graphic and fashion designing. However, I am working with several people including my wife who has great passion in fashion. It’s like chain business. My love of Gucci clothing has also influenced this.

M

C: Who inspired you in the fashion industry and why?

T

P: My main inspiration comes from my spiritual father Prophet Shepherd Bushiri. Despite being a man of God, he is an entrepreneur and to me, the greatest fashion icon.

M

C: When is the clothing line going to be launched?

T

P: God’s time is the best. But, tentatively we are planning an official launch in August. But, I can assure Malawians that this clothing line is something that is here to stay. I have dedicated a specific team for the production.

M

C: How affordable are the outfits?

T

P: Cordilia Angel is a classy clothing line with top of the range attire, so our main target is the upper-class market however in due course; we will cater for all.

M

C: How has been the response so far?

T

P: The response has really overwhelmed me. I have been receiving emails from all parts of the globe from different prominent fashion icons that are interested to partner with Cordilia Angel Lifestyle. Many have approached me from Italy, United States of America and South Africa.

M

C: How much have you invested in the project, and can we say Major 1 has initiated this?

T

P: (laughs) I have invested a lot of money and I can’t disclose the exact figures but its big money.

M

C: Has your stay in the rainbow nation propelled your fashion passion?

T

P: To a certain extent, I would say yes because the fashion industry in South Africa is more advanced. There are so many well-known designers in the country that started off like me. For example, Nkosana Modise, Siyabonga Ngwekazi and Ngori Takawira who started the Ama-Kip-Kip brand and Theo Baloyi, founder of Bathu. They all started as small but have since blown off in the fashion industry to an extent where they’re invited to showcase their work in different fashion platforms.

M

C: What is your summary of the fashion industry in Malawi?

T

P: What I can say about the fashion industry in Malawi is that it is on the rise. A couple of runways shows have been successfully organised and have attracted international attention. Several fashion designers have made a name in the fashion industry and put Malawi on the map, such as Lily Alfonso. n

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