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3D fashion shows are the future, and we have Hanifa designer Anifa Mvuemba to thank

The fashion designer unveiled her latest collection using virtual avatars in a beautiful, haunting livestream.

3D fashion shows are the future, and we have Hanifa designer Anifa Mvuemba to thank

Fashion weeks were canceled around the world last spring to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But Anifa Mvuemba, founder of the direct-to-consumer fashion label Hanifa, didn’t let the pandemic stop her from unveiling her latest collection, which was inspired by her homeland, the Democratic Republic of Congo. In May 2020, the Maryland resident held the world’s first virtual fashion show, which was streamed on Instagram Live to Hanifa’s quarter of a million followers. Garments appeared in 3D against a black backdrop, worn by invisible avatars strutting out on a catwalk like a parade of ghosts. It was a beautiful, haunting sight that got the fashion world’s attention and generated more than 2,000 preorders from customers. “Technology is going to move forward with or without us,” Mvuemba points out, explaining that innovation has enabled her to bypass the gatekeepers of the fashion establishment. “I’ve recently asked my team, ‘Why am I seeking validation from the fashion industry?’ We’ve been able to achieve so much within the last eight years and grown a loyal audience of Black women, and women of other races. We’ve been able to achieve all of this without them.” Hanifa generated $1 million in revenue in 2019, and Mvuemba is currently planning to open her first brick-and-mortar store, in Washington, D.C.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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