The fashion industry has produced designers and figureheads with incredible stories and goals. A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, visit web designer Kahindo Mateene created Modahnik, price a socially conscious label that fuses her ethnic background and modern fashion savvy. Having been a 2011 Designer In Residence in the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s, tadalafil Viral Fashion sought out Miss Mateene to discuss her inspiration, goals, and view on fashion. 

Kahindo Mateene fashion designer of Modahnik label. Women's Fashion.

Viral Fashion: Who, or what inspires you to create? 

Kahindo Mateene: I am inspired by my Congolese culture, as well as my travels and the city life of a modern day woman. I also take a lot of inspiration from strong, fashionable, confident women from my late mother to Michelle Obama.

VF: How did you come up with the name of your line?
KM: Modahnik is an anagram of my first name Kahindo and my last initial M. It also has a fashion connotation, moda is Italian for “fashion” and mode is French for “fashion.” I have also been told I have a unique sense of style, thus Modahnik- which sounds like unique!

VF: What is your vision for Modahnik?

KM: My vision for Modahnik is to grow my brand into a Lifestyle brand for women, similar to what Tory Burch has become. I want to make Modahnik the go-to brand when women are looking for something that is colorful, sexy and chic. It is for the confident woman who is looking to make a statement. I want to make a woman feel and look beautiful in a Modahnik dress, one woman at a time. In a couple of years I would like to have bricks and mortar retail outlets in major fashion capitals across the world and be nominated for a CFDA award.

Kahindo Mateene fashion designer of Modahnik label. Women's Fashion.

VF: As a designer, your work is a direct reflection of your life experiences. How did your experiences in Africa influence you? What inspired you to want to be a designer? 

KM: My travels, my heritage and my upbringing are definitely a source of inspiration. Growing up in several countries across Africa, I was constantly surrounded by different cultures and the varying fashion I saw from the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Ethiopia, to Kenya have stayed with me till today. Color was something that was always at the forefront, and I wanted to embrace that.

I decided to be a Fashion Designer because I wanted to create beautiful clothes that transcended cultures. To be able to mix the contemporary with my African heritage is what I aim to do with Modahnik. I also saw a gap in the market for beautifully made clothes that fit a curvy woman’s body type, because I had difficulty shopping for dresses with that body type.

VF: Designing clothing for the hourglass shape is not an easy task. Are there specific things you must make sure not to overlook? 

KM: I love using the deign within prints to really accentuate a woman’s curves by strategically placing the prints. I also use cut, color, proportion and sexy cut-out details in my designs to dress a more hourglass shape.

VF: You are a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation that has experienced the atrocities of civil war and corruption, the AIDS epidemic and sicknesses, and the conflicts in the diamond trade. Yet you have made it a point to center some of your production in the Congo, providing jobs for the citizens of the country and giving them financial security. What challenges have you faced in having your lines produced there?

KM: The media always shines this negative light on Africa and I always want to show that there is a positive side to the continent, one that is entrepreneurial in nature and making a difference. I believe that trade and not aid is the cure to some of the troubles facing a lot of African countries. In manufacturing my clothes, I want to show that a lot of African countries can compete in the market by producing high quality clothes for the export market. I produced my 2nd collection in Kenya and hopefully more companies can start producing in Africa. As a small company I did face some challenges, but I have a plan in place to overcome these issues in the future, which will need me to be on the ground and personally oversee production.

Kahindo Mateene fashion designer of Modahnik label. Women's Fashion.

VF: You were a 2011 Chicago Fashion Incubator Designer at Macy’s. What was it likeworking in that program? What were you able to take away from it? 

KM: The CFI Program was an amazing opportunity to learn the business side of the industry, I compare it do getting a fast track MBA in Fashion. It was great to network with industry veterans, have the huge work space to work in, as well as work alongside fellow designers. Exposing my work to a larger audience, especially through the CFI Fashion Show last October was incredible, and has led to being featured in Chicago Magazine and Chicago Sun-Times.

VF: Who has been your biggest supporter?

KM: My family and friends.

VF: As a designer, how would you define the purpose of fashion? What does it mean to you?

KM: Fashion should be fun! A woman should always feel comfortable and confident in whatever they wear and not be afraid to experiment and try on new things such as color and prints. I always want a woman to feel beautiful and sexy when they wear a Modahnik dress.

Designer Kahindo Mateene, Modahnik Clothing. Viral Fashion Spotlight Interview

To learn more about Modahnik and designer, Kahindo Mateene, 

written by Rachel Margaritis