Written by Sanga Dimbaza
There is no greater brand ambassador than Mzukisi Mbane, founder of afro-futuristic fashion brand Imprint ZA. If you have ever spotted him at an event or anywhere about town, he will surely be in an ensemble with an elaborate print and a big, bright hat to complete the look. He truly embodies the ethos of his brand, which is ‘Leave a mark.’
Mzukisi is a qualified accountant turned self-taught fashion designer and creative entrepreneur. He learned to sew by experimenting with his mom’s old Singer sewing machine where he developed his flare for colour and flowy silhouettes. This comes across in Imprint ZA’s distinct style, which is characterised by bold fabrics and prints, as well as beautiful patterns and designs. The clothes give a feel I can best describe as ‘beach holiday in Zimbali while holding a mimosa in one hand, Glamour magazine in the other and oysters decked on the table ready for you to enjoy, overlooking the ocean’. The brand also intentionally challenges gendered fashion; contrasting well tailored suits with flowing kimonos.
Mzukisi had its first break as an emerging creative at the Design Indaba back in 2015. Though he had felt intimidated competing amongst creatives with design and fashion backgrounds , his fears were quelled when he sold out his clothes by the end of the first day at the indaba. Since then, the brand has reached many heights, they have showcased in SA menswear week a few times, Mercedes Benz Cape town fashion week, Mercedes Benz Ghana fashion week and many others. They have also dressed many celebrities and beloved cover stars such as Elsa Majimbo in a 2021 SA cover of GQ Magazine, and even featured on the March 2022 issue of Exit Newspaper where Simphiwe Dana is dawning a beautiful red gown.
Having been a self-taught designer, Mzukizi struggled breaking into the fashion industry due to the saturated nature of the fashion world, and having limited resources. But what speaks to the brand’s resilience and marker of success is Mzukisi’s will and passion for what he does. This was recently demonstrated at Imprint ZA’s showing at this October’s Lagos Fashion Week, where the pieces meant to go down the runway did not arrive with his flight to Nigeria. Mzukisi and his team created magic by altering his own clothes for the runway. Instead of choosing to pull out of the show (and he would have had the right to do so considering his collection went missing) he made the call to honour Lagos Fashion Week and the Imprint ZA brand, and the runway was a success.
Imprint ZA is proudly showcasing what Africa has to offer, producing quality garments which bring a breath of fresh air to the monotony. The brand also made itself more accessible with its recent collaboration with retailer Markham. We look forward to witnessing more as the brand grows and establishes itself as part of South Africa’s fashion juggernauts.