Fantastical fabrication

Textile designer Zinzi de Brouwer pushes the boundaries of materials and technology to create complex knits with three-dimensionality.

Part of the Project

Born in Maputo in 1987, globe-hopper Zinzi de Brouwer considers herself a fashion designer specialising in textile design and trend forecasting for high-fashion brands.

Her work is inspired by her childhood growing up in Mozambique: its landscape and tropical vegetation, traditional capulana cloth, the weaving of dried palm leaves, and her multi-cultural Dutch and Arabic family heritage.

She completed her fashion design studies at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute in 2010, and has worked as a designer in Bali, Rome and New York, where she did a six-month internship at womenswear label Proenza Schouler.

In 2012, she moved back to Maputo where she produces her own textile and fashion collections and teaches fashion design at the Superior Institute of Art and Culture at Eduardo Mondlane University.

Her 2014 ‘Marvelous Realm’ fabric collection include snake leather embroidered with pure silk yarn, organic cotton yarns with metallic polyester yarns to create delicate knit structures and lustered yarns to create shimmery effects in the weaves.

Her 2013 collection, ‘Man vs Nature’, used specially treated leathers, double-sided with piercing blues and greens to create a series of textures that are unpredictable, fierce and beautiful. Feathers, smooth sturdy leathers and skins have all been dyed, treated and twisted to give the textiles a different dimension.

She aims to retain and enhance the materials ability to age beautifully and gracefully to and have a longer life, underscoring a new approach to consumerism.

De Brouwer's fabrics were exhibited as part of the Africa is Now exhibition at Design Indaba Expo 2014 under the theme 'Africa is Transformed', that explored African makers and creators' singular, make-do approach to materiality, transforming what’s at hand into unexpected objects and designs that delight.