What was your primary inspiration when you started the Sophie Zinga label?
When I first launched the line my primary inspiration came from my country, Senegal. I remember sourcing fabrics and creating intricate designs with Senegalese hand woven fabrics.
How would you describe the brand in 3 words?
Feminine. Classic. Minimal.
Congratulations on your first show at Paris Fashion Week! You displayed your AW’14-15 collection – what/who were the main influences behind that (if any)?
Thank you. Even though New York is my base and it’s an untraditional approach, I think my international fan base appreciated it. I think it was important to show in Paris, which is the original fashion capital of the world.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Yes my favourite piece is the gold metallic lame dress. It is glamorous silk metallic lame but at the same time keeps Sophie Zinga’s minimal quality and focus on lavish fabrics and clean lines.
You have such a cosmopolitan background – from Dakar (Senegal) to New York via Paris and Lagos – how do these disparate influences manifest themselves in your designs?
It comes naturally. Sophie Zinga is named after myself so it reflects parts of personality, my reality and myself, which translates into my designs.
Can you tell us about some of the unique features of the label?
The label is 100% made in Senegal (West Africa).
We love Animals. No real fur policy.
We only use silks, brocades or hand woven fabrics.
Is there a particular process you follow when designing?
I travel a lot. My parents travel a lot so I get a lot of my inspiration from traveling or from my parents’ trips. My mother is a great storyteller so she has an amazing way of giving people details about her trips that makes you feel like you were there. Other than that, it starts with sketches in my red little to-go red book I keep with me at all times. Picking out fabrics is my favourite part! I sometimes source fabrics depending on how I’m feeling.
You describe the label as “socially conscious”. Could you expand on that?
When I first thought about creating the label, giving back and creating jobs in West Africa was my biggest motivation. I have a background in development and economics and I’ve extensively volunteered and worked in development issues regarding Africa so naturally I always wanted to incorporate that in the label’s DNA. I made the conscious move of keeping the manufacturing done in 100% in West Africa. I am currently working with different multinational entities to improve to livelihoods women and girls and to give workers from disadvantaged communities the opportunities to have a dignified job in fashion, which in return benefits the whole community.
Who would be your dream client to design for/work with?
Lupita Nyongo. She perfectly nails the essence of style in an effortless way, without trying too hard. Angelina Jolie would be an amazing client as well. She can do no wrong on the red carpet.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on my Spring/Summer 15 collection, which is going to be the most extensive collection yet to date. Excitement is an understatement!
What are your plans to expand the line?
I would love to expand the line and ultimately create a diffusion line 5 years down the road. In 2016 I plan on developing accessories.
What is your FAULT?