Want to be a fashion tourist? Travel to Dar es Salaam for the #SFW2014


(Posted 24th November 2014)

With just over a week to go to the Swahili Fashion Week 2014, the seventh time that this fashion show is being held, are readers asking questions about the background of the #SFW and even more about ‘Who is Mustafa Hassanali’. Tanzania’s premier fashion showcase is again being organized by 3610 (www.361tanzania.com) and hosted by the Sea Cliff Hotel (www.hotelseacliff.com) and the who is who of Tanzania’s business community are literally queuing up as sponsors, evidence of how popular the Swahili Fashion Week has become over the years and how much sponsors will get in return over PR exposure and being linked to the event.

Mustafa appears to be very keen and prompt when talking about his passion for fashion and the various events he has in the past organized in Tanzania and across 18 other African countries and as far as Italy, where he is putting Tanzania’s unique creations on the map. 29 cities have seen MH’s shows where, besides bringing his passion for fashion to bear, he has been his home country’s goodwill ambassador, helping to raise interest in visiting Tanzania, be it for fashion tourism or for the more conventional safari and beach tourism. Yet little is otherwise known about Mustafa the person, the brain behind the fashion juggernaut he has created over the past years and it is perhaps time, just 10 days away from the #SFW2014 to shed some light on who Mustafa Hassanali really is.

Born in June 1980 Mustafa did he, of course, go through the various stages of formal education, finished Primary and Secondary School and then went on to study medicine, becoming a medical doctor.

Tongue in cheek I would perhaps say that his passion for fashion then prevailed over healing bodies when he began to dress the human body up some 15 years ago, when in 1999, initially as a hobby, he made his first big waves. That year’s Miss Tanzania, Hoyce Temu, wore his designer dress when she was crowned as Tanzania’s beauty queen and word has it that her dress must have played a role, instantly catapulting MH to fashion fame.

It was by no means a smooth ride though as ups and downs shook hand on the way through the various doors, which closed and opened for MH before in 2008 he then started what was to become Eastern Africa’s premier fashion event, often copied but never quite reached, the Swahili Fashion Week.

The UK’s New African Woman magazine named him as one of Africa’s top designers while Msafiri, Kenya Airways’ inflight magazine, in a feature about him some time ago named him the ‘Count of Couture’ – a title topped when Forbes included him as East Africa’s only fashion designer of notice in their Forbes Africa listings.

Apart from designing for renowned shows in the country like for the annual Miss Tanzania contest, corporate and television based shows and other high society events amongst others, Mustafa’s work has been highly appreciated at the international level. He has worked alongside Naomi Campbell’s who has modelled for him to various celebrities and high profile leaders who have adorned his couture.

Mustafa Hassanali was also appointed by the Minister for information, youth, Culture and sports to be part of the steering committee to search for Tanzania National Attire. He also has been the only designer to have been invited by Tanzania Embassy in Sweden and Russia to celebrate Tanzania Mainland and The union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar 50th anniversary in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

What adds a unique dimension to MH’s persona is his constant initiative in going out of the way, in supporting various charities such ‘Breast Cancer Awareness‘ & ‘Violence against Women‘. In Zanzibar he has supported the Zanzibar Mental Hospital. His medical background no doubt has influenced the establishment of on of his brands ‘Fashion 4 Health’.

Dar es Salaam may not yet be Milan, Paris, London or New York but for sure it is today THE city in Africa where a genuine African fashion scene has taken root and from where it has spread across the wider Eastern and Central African region. This is by and large thanks to Mustafa and his Herculean effort to put his own creations on the market and generally popularize East Africa’s fashion designs, designers and their annual collections and put them under the global spotlight. He has literally travelled the fashion world’s key locations and showcased Swahili Fashion from Johannesburg to Dakar, from Lusaka to Harare, to promote his collections and give African fashion a new face and a new name.

In fact, as a new trend, has fashion tourism began to make an impact, as more and more people travel from the wider Eastern African region to see the Swahili Fashion Week, and other such events, close up and personal and besides travel also buy and wear the dresses and accessories’ on show.

I guess now you all know a bit more about HM and his passion for fashion but if this was not enough, get a ticket, come to the Swahili Fashion Week in Dar es Salaam from 05th to 07th December and, if lucky enough to get close to HM, ask him yourself another question or two what makes him tick.

For added information about next week’s event click on http://www.swahilifashionweek.com/

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