Anifa Mvuemba has had a whirlwind year. The D.C.-based designer behind hot knitwear brand Hanifa recently got engaged to her longtime partner, and she's a new mom to a baby girl. Her brand was introduced to the world with a bang — she went viral during the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 — but she shows no signs of ramping down her ambitions. If anything, she's designing around them.
"This is probably the craziest time of my life," the designer tells Harper's Bazaar at the Silver Lining Lounge in the Lower East Side, where she held an intimate presentation for her new fall/winter collection. "One thing that I was really nervous about was becoming a mom and also doing my job, but what I've learned is you really just have to let it all go. That's what this collection is about: I can be a boss and be a mom at the same time."
The latest offering is inspired by a city that's shorthand for American ambition: New York. The new pieces include sleek double-breasted coats, structured jumpsuits, and intricately cut-out knit dresses, all composed in signature Hanifa colorways like warm oranges and serene teal blues. It's not easy to make knitwear hot, but standout pieces like the baby pink Sacha Set and Taliah Maxi Dress are sure to be popular among the dinner party circuit later this season.
"Knitwear has become part of our DNA. We're constantly trying different things and different techniques; we're always trying to elevate. I saw a tweet earlier today that said something like 'You can always count on Hanifa to create something new and something unique,'" Mvuemba says. "That's so rewarding to hear, because that's what I'm aiming for as a designer. It's become our biggest category—we're always looking at different ways to incorporate it and make it work for us."
Mvuemba has worked hard in recent years to expand past the lookbook when it comes to showcasing her latest collections. There was her career-defining 3D digital model show at the height of the pandemic, and a VIP-filled runway presentation in her home city of Washington, D.C, just a year later. This time around, Hanifa's campaign visuals serve as a love letter to the brand's biggest fans—New Yorkers—and the high-energy lifestyle so many of her customers embrace.
There will always be more on the horizon for the designer; she's launching a bridal category later this year and has expanded successfully into shoes as well. But for right now, she's celebrating the community that has helped her brand thrive.
"New York symbolizes that hustle and bustle," the designer adds. "That's why in the campaign visual you see the model running around the city and doing what she has to do—that's where I'm at in my life right now. As I'm growing and everything is moving, New York is really important to me and really important to my brand—because the New York girls hold us down."
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