Tell us about your brand XIPIXI. What made you start it and how have you established your place in the industry over the years? Xipixi started out of necessity. I was unemployed and decided to turn my crisis into an opportunity. As I built the brand, I thought very consciously that I wanted to fill a gap in the fashion industry, particularly in the African context where you have very few luxury brands catering to gentlemen. I wanted to create a brand that would attract gentlemen internationally but still had a sense of African elegance.
Describe the XIPIXI aesthetic in one line. Afro chic.
What makes your brand distinct? The fact that it’s a luxury brand from Africa strictly dedicated to gentlemen makes it very unique. Another unique aspect is that we are not afraid of using bright colours for gentlemen, and we always study the best way to do it with a sense of elegance, classic and timelessness
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer? I was supposed to be either a diplomat or an international development professional working for a UN agency; however, two year unemployment after acquiring my first degree made me decide to use my artistic inclination and passion for design to start a clothing brand. I started XIPIXI with the equivalent of R45, bought a sheet printed fabric made a pair of shorts, sold it, and was able to make three more from the first sale. We are now doing business in 10 countries around the world, and have built up a successful business since we started in 2012.
Tell us about your new collection. What are the key pieces? What makes it different to recent collections? The new collection is called “The Original Gentleman” and it is in collaboration with THE Glenlivet whisky brand, I think that is the first element that gave a new direction to my creative process. The collaboration was very organic and original, and as such, I decided to work with colours that were aligned with THE Glenlivet colour palette. For instance, the floral green pattern was dedicated to THE Glenlivet 12 Year Old’s green bottle.
In terms of pieces, the collection comprises XIPIXI tuxedos, royal pyjamas, suits made with fine wools, and we introduced light bomber jackets in suede fabric, silk pyjamas and accessories as well as cufflinks made out of rubies from Northern Mozambique in collaboration with Namuno Gold & Gems. This collection also has a lot of royal African styled embroidery carefully sewn onto wool and wax print shorts.
What was your inspiration this season? I was inspired by various things. I got married this year, went on a beautiful honeymoon to the private Maricel Beach Resort in Chizavane and Tofo Beach in Mozambique. That was inspiring. I was also inspired by the new wave of the modern African and international gentleman – he is stylish and exudes an unforgiving sense of originality, authenticity and uniqueness. In addition to being inspired by avant-garde gentlemen who fit the XIPIXI gentleman profile, I was very much inspired by the sounds of John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Daniel Caesar and the 4:44 album by Jay-Z. In terms of imagery, my mind was stuck in 1950s and 1960s Jazz bar scenes with flashes of the 2017 youthful trap music scene spirit and energy, so I tried to bring together all of these elements during the show. I love to create experiences and timeless moments through our shows for our guests. The XIPIXI regal element is definitely felt within this particular collection. The cherry on top was drinking THE Glenlivet 15 Year Old while on a creative high. I think if you sprinkle a little bit of all the above-mentioned elements, you have yourself “The Original Gentleman” collection.
What was the process of making this collection? As previously mentioned I was consuming THE Glenlivet 15 Year Old, which became my favourite throughout the conceptualization and crafting of the collection. I watched several videos and copied and pasted a lot of THE Glenlivet reference pictures into my mood board. I paired the Glenlivet images with Xipixi design concepts and began to imagine what sorts of garment combinations a XIPIXI gentleman would wear while drinking each and every bottle of THE Glenlivet during the Spring/Summer season. The toughest, costliest and most time consuming piece to make was the collaboration gold tuxedo made out of sequins, glass and a bottle of THE Glenlivet. For that particular jacket I worked with mosaic artist Marcelino Manhula.
What are your favourite pieces and why? I think I have about 4-5 favourites in the entire collection. Obviously the showstopper, which was the golden jacket, but not only because of the jacket but also the added golden embroidery on the pants was my favourite creation in the entire collection. That was my statement piece. I also enjoyed seeing the models sporting the new pajamas - both the silk one with the XIPIXI pattern because it’s our first ever piece with the prints designed in-house and I think it came out well, as well as the robe with the burgundy pants. To me, this stood as a testament to our growth when it comes to mixing complex colours and making the combination work for any gentleman. The royal green suit with the light jacket with golden embroidery accompanied by velvet bow-tie with crystals worn by Ian Blanco was definitely a favourite for me. It has a contemporary African majestic feel to it that I love.
Tell us about your new in-house printed fabrics. What was the process of making these fabrics? I took my artistic friends to Chamanculo two years ago, the neighbourhood where I was born in Maputo, Mozambique. We drove around, we walked and took pictures throughout our ballad. One of the pictures that stood out was that of a brick wall from a house that had interesting shapes that made a pattern. I took that picture with me, redesigned the pattern on a piece of paper with a pencil and black pen. My creative advisor, Ricardo Pinto Jorge, took a picture of the drawing with an iPhone, uploaded on photoshop and multiplied the pattern, and we saw the blocks re-appearing. On top of that, there was an X that also appeared many times. I fell in love with it and told Ricardo this was going to be our signature print. We applied it for the very first time on this collection on a tie, a shirt, and a silk pajama set. Designing our own pattern is important to me because it tells us as an African brand that we are starting to own our own patterns and can now create a sense of sustainability and timelessness with our fashion.
Tell us about your collaboration with THE Glenlivet. How did it come about and what’s next? We were approached to collaborate with THE Glenlivet for the first event of the Original Series, which was supposed to be a fashion show. It sounded like a fantastic opportunity for us, but we just had to make sure that our DNAs aligned as brands and to me it was important that our relationship throughout the collaboration was organic and original. By the day of the show, it seemed as if both brands had been working together for a long time, because the entire event had strong elements of both brands and there seemed to be a very original sense of complementing each other. I think both brands have always worked tirelessly in their own right to maintain a sense of originality, timelessness and uniqueness. That is what I most enjoy about this partnership, it’s that both brands have similar values, we both value craftsmanship, originality and leadership. The future is filled with endless possibilities.
How does your brand’s location influence/inspire the brand’s identity and seasonal designs? It definitely does, because to this date, we have never had a winter collection. Most clothes I make are for tropical weather, I usually use thin lining on the jackets to make sure that most clothes are weather appropriate for the season. Our patterns are also usually very bright, colourful and floral, which often evokes the feeling that the XIPIXI summer is endless.
Where do you find creative inspiration? Moments, family, conversations, long lone walks, hot showers, travel, quotes, classic movies, music, Instagram screenshots, luxury stores, and lately enjoying a bottle of the THE Glenlivet 15 year old - these have all been a great source of inspiration.
Who is the XIPIXI man? The gentleman who gets the second look
What are your style staples? A pair of flat top shades, a bow-tie, a well-fitted blazer and brown brogues.
What is one item every man should have in their wardrobe? A white or light blue dress shirt.