If there is a list of African designers that require little to no introduction, Taibo Bacar is certainly on it. We first spoke (read gushed) about this designer from Mozambique in our 2015 article titled, ‘Africa Feature: Taibo Bacar. Full Stop.’ To date, he continues to be a leading brand on the continent, and we can see why. Bacar has created a brand identity that is easily recognizable thanks to three key elements: influences from his Mozambican heritage and customs, devotion to quality, and the assiduity to the female silhouette. So, while no introductions are necessary, his story continues to flourish. And what better time to follow up with the award-winning designer than during our luxury series? TDS caught up the designer to find out more about his journey so far and his take on African luxury:
As we’ve seen in our series so far, luxury has multiple definitions. How would you define it?[Luxury is] Something directly connected to beauty, seen by the eyes and felt by the soul, something that can please all five senses.
Luxury is all about creating a dream that customers can believe in. What narrative does the Taibo Bacar brand hope to pass on to its consumers?
We believe we can be pioneers in writing a new history of Fashion, not from Africa, but from Africa to the world (a product of African design that anyone in any place in the world, in any season can identify with), because we are Africans and our goal is to create for the world.
Apart from price, what makes you stand out as a luxury brand?
First of all, the price is defined according to the product, so automatically every name has a direct link with the product and not with the price. Therefore, the quality of the product, the production specifications, the human factor (who produces) and how it is produced determines the price and, consequently that price determines the designation “LUXURY”.
[Luxury is] Something directly connected to beauty, seen by the eyes and felt by the soul, something that can please all five senses.
We’ve noticed that in addition to your flagship store in Maputo, you’re available online. Why was this decision a good fit for your brand?[We are available] in the online store based in NY onychek.com, and also available online at taibobacar.com. Being a considerably new brand in the market, there was a need to have the products available online. We believe that being in Maputo and not having points of sale outside of Africa, the opening of e-commerce would be an added value in terms of sale and making the TB brand known internationally.
How would you say your style has evolved since you started?
We started with a dream and halfway down we found out that there should be a balance between dream and reality. That is to say, we should always believe in our dreams just as we should respect the dreams of those who consume our products.
Our goal is to be a complete brand and to be able to compete and lead in any global market, therefore it is our duty to offer a complete range of products to the consumer.
What steps have you taken as a designer to refine your brand?
First, learn to know the end consumer; accept and respect the opinions of others; discover our DNA; set goals and objectives; work and achieve.
The brand has incorporated eyewear and handbags… why did you make this move? How does it tie in to your core business?
Our goal is to be a complete brand and to be able to compete and lead in any global market, therefore it is our duty to offer a complete range of products to the consumer. We are happy to know that there is a good acceptance of these products and a prosperous space for growth.
We’ve yet to see the Taibo Bacar brand do a collaboration with another designer. Is it in the cards?
No, because for what the TB brand aims to be, there is neither space nor need for collaborations with other brands in the same segment (footwear, bags, clothing). However, we hope we can collaborate with many artists from other distinct areas in the future.
Speaking of clothes, what materials do you most often choose to work with and why?
Viscose, Jacquard, silk, chiffon. Because these are materials that have already been tested many times and always showed positive results, we identify with them and they are perfect for what is our DNA.
How do you approach collections? Are the limited editions or continuously available at stores?
Until now our production never passed 50 pieces per design, therefore we consider all our products as limited editions. The accessories are timeless, made off-season and with the goal of being produced whenever it is necessary.
We believe that the quality of our product, the materials and techniques used, contribute for it to be considered a luxury product, so there is no difference between the lines; from ready to wear to haute couture
From our observation, we’ve noticed you’ve split it into three categories; Ready-to-wear, High fashion and Bridal wear…
We affirm that the 3 categories exist, and their values are determined according to the characteristics presented in the first question. Nevertheless, we like to emphasize that categorizing our brand as a luxury brand is relative (depends on the market, economic situation, social factors, etc.). But we believe that the quality of our product, the materials and techniques used contribute for it to be considered a luxury product, so there is no difference between the lines, from ready to wear to haute couture, and from the cheapest product to the most expensive, we are zealous about the quality, design and comfort (they all present the same characteristics).
How would you describe the Taibo Bacar client?
Intelligent, Versatile, confident, determined and lover of simplicity. The TB woman is a common mortal with dreams and ambitions whose goal is to be and to make happy.
We hear that they were the inspiration behind your current collection…
Bacar´s Diary is a collection inspired by the Taibo Bacar woman. A woman who does not let herself be dressed by the clothes but instead dresses the clothes, Bacar´s Diary is a collection which aims to show to the world the woman that exists inside the soul of the TB creator, a woman who can be a Brazilian living in NY, a Japanese living in Bali, an Australian living in Gaborone or even a Mozambican living in London… anyway a woman from the world to the world.
Bacar´s Diary is a collection of defining cuts, remarkable silhouette, intense modelling and strong colours, easy confection light fabrics, fresh elements which determine the DNA of the TB brand, a right balance of materials, colours and cuts which aims to please the TB woman and make her reach her goals and satisfy her wishes.
We’ve noticed your media interactions – as well as your social media communication – isn’t as frequent as other brands. Is this a deliberate move?
Yes. We are a small brand, until now we have survived by investments on our profits, and we have to prioritize some areas. At the moment the sector that we decided to prioritize is investigation, design and quality production.
What other challenges have you faced being a luxury brand in Africa?
1st Devaluation of African brands by Africans;
2nd direct connection with political issues.
3rd The fact that we are part of a pioneer group;
4th Constant comparison with renowned international brands.
Are there strides we need to be making as a continent to strengthen our luxury industry?
There is a need for a larger number of makers in that area; fashion, art, etc. Understanding that it is possible to create luxury under our culture, without losing identity (to exist a balance between modern and traditional) because our greatest asset is our tradition and it should be present.
Finally, what can we look forward to from the brand this year?
A continuous growth, presentation of new products, and the usual consistency.