Hanifa's Anifa Mvuemba & The OULA Company's Erika Dalya Massaquoi Share Excitement For a New Fashion Era

By Bianca Gracie | November 28, 2022

This feature is in the October Style Issue. Click here to subscribe.

THIS NEW FASHION ERA WILL BE A TIME TO ESCAPE, EMBRACE LOVE AND SHAKE OFF ANY LEFTOVER SADNESS.

From the vivid inclusivity of Beyoncé’s Renaissance album to Quinta Brunson’s Abbott Elementary TV series providing endless belly laughs, it’s clear this decade—the Roaring 2020s—is all about being carefree. We were initially searching for hope, but now we are ready to dance and rejoice in the beauty of life. Naturally, the fashion industry (which is historically a cultural reflection) is leading the decade with decadent patterns and juicy color palettes. Below, Hanifa founder and designer Anifa Mvuemba (@hanifaofficial) and The OULA Company founder and CEO Erika Dalya Massaquoi (@theoulacompany) share their plans to celebrate this exciting era.

Every fashion era births unforgettable trends. Do you anticipate any defining the 2020s?

AM: We’re ready for color! Highlighting vibrant hues and a renewed sense of boldness and willingness to experiment will lead to more daring and fun looks. After a period of lockdowns when we lived in our pajamas, people are ready to experiment with color, textures and silhouettes.

EDM: I anticipate that the general public will celebrate African diaspora heritage much more deeply than they ever have before. I see a return to glamour defined by a no-holds-barred embracement of Black self-expression. This will be embraced in the consumer-oriented economy and mass entertainment. Our lived experience has always been in vogue, and as we further advocate for ourselves and gain more economic strongholds in the art and design arena, change will happen. It is happening.

Is there anything missing in fashion that you hope to be revived in this new era?

AM: Originality and thoughtful design have been left behind in the industry. As beneficial as social media is for reach, it has also created a tendency for sameness among some brands. I hope designers and customers both learn to own their personal styles and reflect on ways to create meaningful collections.

EDM: What I hope to see is more of a full-on commitment to freedom—our ability to affirm the right to control our own destinies— as a creative I see my products as tools that combat inequity, sexism and racism and in turn celebrate Black joy.

Hanifa_6.jpg
A look from Hanifa’s Live Out Loud spring/summer 2022 collection

Hanifa celebrates all types and forms of women, but do you plan on integrating the ‘Roaring 2020s’ into your aesthetic for future collections?

AM: The female body is where we start with our collections. We want the women wearing Hanifa to feel beautiful, comfortable, sexy—ultimately, confident. Our upcoming collections will continue to reflect that in some surprising ways!


Looks from Hanifa’s Live Out Loud spring/summer 2022 collection
A look from Hanifa’s Live Out Loud spring/summer 2022 collection

Same question for you, Erika.

EDM: Yes, this sentiment is embodied in our brand ethos given my love for art deco, which, in the ’20s, combined modern style, fine craftsmanship and rich materials. Art deco was influenced by cubism, which has a strong connection to African art. Many of the textiles I curate for OULA feature strong geometrics and reference Afro-cubism. The textile and surface design I’m attracted to is vibrant, bold and highly stylized. Graphic design that is free, fearless and powerful resonates. It has always been used to fight racism, oppression and social injustice.

A dress from Hanifa’s Live Out Loud spring/ summer 2022 collection
A dress from Hanifa’s Live Out Loud spring/ summer 2022 collection

Anifa, to me, your brand embodies ‘accessible luxury.’ Can you touch on the importance of making your consumers feel their best at an attainable price point?

AM: The Hanifa signature is ‘for women without limits.’ The brand has always been about empowering women, and I am so proud of all that Hanifa and our amazing team represent and create across collections and projects. Our core belief is that women can achieve anything they set their minds to, and we hope to be a valuable part of that journey in realizing their confidence.

1
A sneak peek of The OULA Company's upcoming collection

Erika, can you discuss the importance of the fashion industry needing to amplify and financially support Black designers?

EDM: Black designers need and deserve retail and financial support to grow our companies. The Black experience in fashion is unique. For me, it is service oriented and inextricably linked to my life as a Black woman working to realize my full potential. It is imperative that the fashion industry work to advance racial equity and economic empowerment by supporting our businesses. There must be parity in opportunities and income in exchange for the dollars we spend and the cultural influence we provide to the industry.

1
A sneak peek of The OULA Company's upcoming collection

Erika, how you do think Anifa embodies inclusivity and joy in her designs?

EDM: I am really inspired by the manner in which Anifa has disrupted the industry and the internet. Her direct-to-consumer model and relationship with her customer base are admirable.

A sneak peek of The OULA Company’s upcoming collection
A sneak peek of The OULA Company’s upcoming collection

Same for you, Anifa.

AM: [The OULA Company] has so much personality. The designs are distinctively hers, and you can tell she genuinely enjoys what she does and creates with joy. Erika [and the new wave of designers] all have different backgrounds and styles, but they all create pieces that transcend the norm.

ANIFA MVUEMBA
ANIFA MVUEMBA

ANIFA MVUEMBA, FOUNDER AND DESIGNER OF HANIFA: “The ‘Roaring 2020s’ resonates with relatability while thinking outside of the box. Now more than ever, designers have direct access to their audience with the opportunity to do things on their own terms.”

ERIKA DALYA MASSAQUOI, FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE OULA COMPANY: “With The OULA Company, I’ve entered this new decade with a similar type of artistic and cultural enthusiasm that was prevalent 100 years ago, especially in Black culture given the dynamism of the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance. I see Black founders in fashion finally achieving well-deserved fame and notoriety for their work, and it’s thrilling.”