By Chere Di Boscio
Senegalese born Sophie Nzinga Sy has always had natural talent for art and culture. A former student at the Parson’s School of Fashion and Design, she has applied the many skills she learned there to create her own eponymous fashion brand, Sopie Zinga.
Drawing on her diverse cultural background and love of nature, her brand is aimed at the modern day woman, and features contemporary geometric silhouettes with pops of colour and floral patterns.
Here in this interview, Zinga talks more about her work, her collection, and where she’s headed.
How would you describe the Sophie Zinga Woman?
She’s a strong woman yet super chic and feminine like her classic pieces but with a modern twist to them. She’s well traveled and embraces multi-cultured fashion. She’s also socially conscious.
How has coming from Senegal impacted your work?
Coming from Senegal definitely impacts my design aesthetic. I always find myself getting inspired by the Senegalese culture and especially Senegalese women who are known for being very gracious and demure. I am also influenced by the textile traditions of the region. For example for the Spring/Summer 15 collection I have patchwork that is made with “bazin” fabric which is a typically Senegalese fabric worn in religious ceremonies.
We understand your brand is sustainable in many ways. Can you tell us more about that?
Yes, when I decided to launch my brand in 2012 I knew I wanted to keep the production in West Africa. For me it was all about going back to Senegal to create opportunities/jobs. I found that much more rewarding than just working in a 9 to 5 job in New York City. I have strong affinity and background in development so for me being able to train people and get them skills is very rewarding.
Another aspect of the brand is our Signature Tie Dye. Our dying process is 100% natural and we use mostly plant based dye to create our desired color palette and this also done in collaboration with the local Senegalese and Malian artisans.
What inspired your current collection?
I have always been fascinated by the Ethiopian culture and its great ancient civilization. I was also intrigued by the symbolism I found in many of the typical traditional Ethipian attire and wanted to interptret that in my own way into this collection. The collection is truly an homage to the people and is also very much and east meets West approach. I’m all about embracing being inspired by different cultures and religions and merging them all together.
I’m grateful to have leaved in both East and West Africa as well as in the US so I think it translates into this particular collection. I also have both Catholic and Muslim in my family so that also is reflected in my work.
You recently showed your collection in Dubai. Is the Arab market next for you?
I always wanted to visit the Middle East so for me it was only natural to accept the invitation to take part of Fashion Week Middle East. I really like their approach which is an international one. Everyone travels now and the world is more connected than ever and the Sophie Zinga woman definitely embodies that lifestyle.