Young Designer wins with swakara
In 2011 the swakara Board of Namibia initiated a competition for young Namibian fashion designers,
encouraging them to come up with new fashion designs using swakara fur. A young designer, Aili
Nangula Elifas, jumped at the opportunity and made a name for herself by winning the first ‘swakara
Young Designers Competition’.
Ms. Elifas, who has her own fashion label called ‘Aili’, received her training in ‘Clothing Production’ at
the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology, in Arandis. This talented young Namibian has, to
date, built a very successful fashion design track record.
She had the opportunity to represent Namibia in various fashion shows world-wide, including Berlin.
Her award winning design, using swakara fur, was entered into the ITFT (International Fur Trade
Federation) international fur design competition: REMIX, which took place in Milan, Italy, at the
beginning of March 2012. Her design competed against 44 other stunning fur designs from all over
Aili participated in a Bank Windhoek Mentorship Program for young designers where she learned
about swakara from Wessel Visser, Manager of Agra pelt centre, who gave a presentation as part of
the program. She says that she finds the arrangement/pattern of the hair on the fur and how it grows
very interesting and knew it would give a neat look to a design.
When the competition was launched, it was the opportunity for Aili to experiment and experience
working with fur. Although she already participated in a fashion show in Berlin in 2010, representing
Namibia, this was the first time she used swakara.
About her future plans Aili says: “I have taken in a business partner and we are very busy establishing
our business. We are both young designers and we see ourselves being successful, established
designers in 5 years’ time, known locally and internationally” and added: “I would definitely love to
work with swakara again.”
In the swakara industry the slogan ‘From the Desert to the Catwalk’ is well known. Aili has indeed
converted these words to a beautiful reality with her unique design.
By: Dietlinde Mueller