By KEHINDE AJOSE
Rahima Mohammed, Founder, Raaah London, is a remarkable African fashion designer that is ready to reach the skies with her exquisite designs. The Zimbabwean started designing at the age of twenty and took it a step further by studying fashion drawing at the London College of Fashion.
RAAAH is a ladies fashion brand that creates elegant, cutting edge pieces that are pitched between high street and high end fashion labels. She opens up on the vision for her brand in Nigeria, her voyage into entrepreneurship, what she thinks about the African fashion industry and lots more.
Tell us about your background?
I am originally from Zimbabwe but I live in London. I started with opening a boutique were I sold high end clothes for women, so, I went to study fashion drawing at the London College of Fashion to perfect my drawing and sketching skills. That inspired me more to want to bring out my designs. And of course the dreams and visions kept appearing .
Can you share your journey into entrepreneurship?
Though I have always been passionate about fashion, I temped in various industries for a long time and was never interested in fulltime white-collar job. Whilst temping, I used to buy and sell shoes and ladies’ dresses online for years. The drawing courses I took last year helped to put my ideas of designs on paper. I came across Toyin of Tiannah’s Place Empire on Instagram , her drive and passion inspired me to bring out my first sketches. I spoke to her about her being my mentor and we came to an agreement and started working on my first collection which got very good feedback. So, I developed them into a full collection and here I am now ready to go with RAAAH!
What is the vision for your brand in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a beautiful place with fashion forward people. I won’t be shocked to see a hot chick at the mall wearing a dress straight off the runway. I would love to see my brand grow in Nigeria and participate in fashion shows and events that can facilitate that growth in terms of exposure. Tiannah’s Place Empire will carry my brand which is already an excellent platform.
Do you think African women are living their dreams?
I don’t think many African women are living their dreams. It’s only now you see women coming out of their shells a bit and doing things to empower themselves or other women because of western influence and in most cases, I think it has to do with the different cultures around the world and society. The economy too doesn’t make it easy for some unless you’re in the western world where there can be opportunities.
Who are the fashion designers you draw inspiration from?
I am inspired by a lot of things and designers like Karen Millen, Alexander McQueen, Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana and Toyin Lawani. I’m so much in love with their work. She is hardworking and very creative and that inspired me to work with her on this my “FLY” collection.
How does music inspire your designs?
Well, I think the arts are interwoven in one way or the other whether it is dance, music or fashion. For me, the rhythms of beats show forth in my clothes. As I design, I imagine the models walking the runway in my clothes, whether fast or slow. This influences my decision on how tight or how loose a piece can be.
What new project are you working on?
RAAAH is fully launching at Pure London 2014 and doing a follow-up launch at AFWL Africa Fashion Week London 2014 but to my core market. I’ve tried to bring out a mixture of styles with what was going on around me at the time to attract a wider audience for my first collection. Maybe in the nearest future , there will be opportunities to target specific market segments.
What’s your take on the African fashion industry?
The African fashion industry is definitely picking up because the spotlight is on Africa right now in terms fashion and arts. We’ve been designing and have always been talented, and it’s like people in the western world think it’s a new thing. It’s actually interesting how Africa often serves as inspiration for most fashion collections. Hence, you see African prints in shops like Topshop. We just need to stand up for ourselves .We will get there slowly but surely.