MOZAMBIQUE is renowned for its native textile referred by locals as Kapulana.
This captivating fabric mostly boasts of bright hues and oriental patterns, making it one of the tropical country’s memorable motifs.
In areas such as Mafalala, Chamanculu and Benfika, it forms an indelible aspect of the Shangaan people and culture.
Here, women typically wrap the textile around their waists during household chores, use it to carry babies on their backs or as house decoration.
It is also used on various art and crafts sold in the country’s capital, Maputo.
And, it is highly accessible — mostly from peddlers roaming the city centre — for 300 meticais (or R100) per four metres.
The textile varies in style from a simple check to an array of colourful abstract patterns.
Phil Baker, who resides in Catembe, said that in the past few years Kapulana was being used in a more contemporary manner, as a fashion statement.
And, that this can be attributed to Maputo’s rise as a popular tourist destination spot, revealing a younger savvy market as opposed to an old wrinkly market from a few years back.
According to rising designer Martinho Cossa young people were beginning take notice of Kapulana, finding ways to make it “cool”.
Cossa’s own love for the textile began when he began buying second-hand shoes sold in the city-centre to upholster them in the textile.
Lately he designs urban wear such as tees and vests, in hopes to grow a fashion brand.
“You don’t see rappers in US with Kapulana you only find it here,” the 21 year-old stylist and student said proudly of his uniquen designs.
Cossa and his friends have also taken to street photography, posting pictures of themselves in Cossa’s designs on Instagram.
29 year-old fashion designer, Iris Santos, who runs a boutique in Maputo, also has a passion for kapulana and designs solely with it.
Santos’ boutique showcased a rack of haute couture dresses for day and night and practical clutch bags.
But, according to the gorgeous Santos Kapulana is not being manufactured in Mozambique anymore.
Ever since the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975 the textile industry allegedly had died.
And, instead of being made in the country it was being imported from Europe.
Santos said she therefore buys Kapulana from Holland. While Cossa said he buys it at a popular Indian fabric shop in Maputo.
Marion Duffin, a retired dress designer who now works for the local Art Museum in Maputo, said that the textile was originally made in Indonesia but had found root in Mozambique.
Santos also said that some of textile art was indigenous to Africa.
While she mostly gets orders from Austria and Holland for her upmarket designs Cossa has a clientele closer to home.
Cossa has collaborated with a few designers, such as Nivaldo Thierry at Mozambique Fashion Week last year.
Cossa and Santos both represent a younger, hybrid generation of Mozambicans who are changing the face of kapulana — from traditional garb to trendy urban wear.