MOZAMBIQUE X MAURITIUS | Zinzi de Brouwer x Beautiful Local Hands

The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange


Inspired by Maputo’s best-loved architect, Pancho Guedes, who shaped much of the city’s post-modernist buildings, Zinzi has created a dress that represents the juxtaposition of past and present in the urban landscape of the city. The fabric nods towards the Maasai tradition for checks and the grid-like structure of the city, while the ruffles and gathers symbolise the lush vegetation and the warm sunshine dappled through palm leaves. Beautiful Local Hands’ artisans, James Warren (aka Pop) and Dany Couyava, created a necklace and bangles to accessorise the look, made from locally sourced polished coconut sewn onto beige canvas.

Zinzi de Brouwer

Born in Maputo in 1987 with a Dutch background, Zinzi de Brouwer grew up surrounded by Mozambique’s unique landscape and culture. After completing a fashion design degree at Amsterdam’s Fashion Institute in 2010, Zinzi worked as a designer in Bali, Rome and latterly New York, where she interned for Proenza Schouler. A Masters degree in Fashion Strategy at the Institute of the Arts in Arnhem soon followed, before setting up her own multi-disciplinary design studio Stories of Near. Her ever-evolving design aesthetic draws much from her multi-cultural background, for example finding inspiration in traditional Mozambican cloth: the ‘capulana’. Her strong African roots have drawn her back to Mozambique, encouraging an ambition to enable empowerment to people, especially women, through craftsmanship, heritage and design by building bridges between cultures through shared ethical values.

Beautiful Local Hands

Beautiful Local Hands owes its beginnings to the charitable arm of Beachcomber Hotels, the FONDATION ESPOIR DÉVELOPPEMENT (FED). Thanks to this foundation’s principled approach to helping educate, train and mentor businesses local to its properties, a cooperative of 55 artisans came together in Mauritius to form Beautiful Local Hands. Experts in pottery, textiles, basketry and beadwork, the craft workers have benefitted from the careful structure of the business, allowing homeworkers who may struggle with conventional enterprise to work from home at their own pace. Those disadvantaged members of Mauritian society, including older women and disabled people are given new skills, escaping their isolation by meeting other craft workers and gaining confidence through their ability to earn an income. The promotion of traditional Mauritian handicraft techniques, using indigenous plants and recycled materials, maintains biodiversity and preserves the environment.