MIZIZI: Streetwear for the Diaspora
Hey guys! Welcome back!
Let me just say - I get so excited when I find dope things on social media because it means I get to share it with you guys! Today I'm going to share MIZIZI, an awesome streetwear brand that you may or may not have seen on social media this past month.
MIZIZI was actually brought to my attention by one of my friends. He sent me an Instagram post via DM about their upcoming Afrolatinx collection and said, "Cop cop cop." LOL and of course I started plottin'! But let me give you guys a little run down on what they're all about, first. We'll get to my amazing skills later.
MIZIZI, which means "roots" in Swahili (according to their website) "embodies the spirit and strength of it's African ancestors, valuing connection, authenticity and representation". It was founded in 2015 by Paakow Essandoh (Twitter: @PaakowEssandoh), and "began as a reminder that taking pride in your roots is an integral part of self actualization and has transformed into a movement that leverages the power of representation to educate, revere and connect the multifaceted members of the Diaspora." Their brand new Afrolatinx collection included Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Brazil, and I was determined to purchase one for myself!
So ... ya girl was already planning on copping this jersey when it came out on September 24th, but lo and behold, the Lord decided to bless ya girl with the opportunity to snag one for the FREEEEE via Twitter. MIZIZI was having a Trivia Jersey Giveaway that same night! #FreeJerseyTrivia was the game, and I was allll about it. My Twitter fingers were ready. To begin, there were four qualifying questions - one winner each. Take a look at the jersey pictures below (Taken by @jacobwcarroll) and see if you can answer them!
What word is written on the back collar of the @MiziziShop Dominican Republic jersey?
Pura Vida is written on the front of the @MiziziShop Costa Rica jersey. What does it mean when translated in English? - This was the one I answered!
What famous statue is located at the summit of Mount Corcovado in Rio De Janeiro?
What flag can be seen on the front of the @MiziziShop Puerto Rican jersey?
After four qualifiers were chosen, there was one more question. The final question had a photo of a country and asked us finalists to identify it. I was so fast AND I TIED WITH ANOTHER GIRL. In my defense, I wrote the entire country name out out and she only put "DR" - but, I digress. There was to be a tie breaker.
The tie breaker question was - What does the 1888 on the back of the Brazil jersey represent?
I typed like a maniac - ABOLISHED SLAVERY - BAM! And I wonnn.! Super exciting. But then I had the idea to contact the people behind MIZIZI to share with you guys on here! So, I hit up the founder, Paakow, and got to ask him some questions. Check out the interview below!
1. How old are you, and where are you from?
I'm 22 years old born in Brooklyn, NY but adopted by Dallas, Texas.
2. Why did you decide to create MIZIZI?
I wanted to start something that not only connected the members of the Diaspora, but was also able to represent an individual's identity and the country in which their origins lie in an authentic manner. MIZIZI started as just clothing, but has grown into a movement that is an outlet for self-expression and self-actualization for an ever-growing collective of individuals that are linked through diverse cultures and heritage.
3. I see that you are Ghanaian. Are there any Afrolatinx members on MIZIZI's team?
We do have one team member named Anthony whose lineage can be traced back to Mexico. MIZIZI is an all inclusive company where we aim to incorporate different perspectives to further inspire growth and remain relatable to people of various backgrounds.
4. What inspired you to create the Afrolatinx Jersey Collection?
MIZIZI is a brand that is representative of all members of the diaspora. Our focal vision is connection and representation, because we understand that the collective power of melinated people has been weakened by separation. We aim to shine a light on the similarities we all share at our roots to further expand our vision of authentic representation, but most of all we aim to reconnect to all members of the tribe, so we can continue to rebuild.
5. How did you come to decide what would go on the jerseys? I noticed that you placed 1888 on the back of the Brazil jersey, that the Loiza flag is on the Puerto Rico jersey, and Costa Rica and Dominican Republic have certain words/phrases on them. What made these particular years, flags, and sayings important enough to place on the jerseys?
We thought this through on two major levels. 1) We wanted to add cultural motifs that anyone from that culture could easily connect with, such as the colors represented in the jersey and the rainforest pattern on the Brazil jersey. 2) We took it a step further and desired to add cultural pieces that would require customers to self educate themselves on the different aspects of their country's culture. For example, many customers ask about the years on the back of the jerseys--often times, these years represent the independence year of that respective country, or in the case of Brazil, it represents the year slavery was abolished.
6. Will you be coming out with more Latin American country jerseys?
Definitely! We started small with only 4 countries(Brazil, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico) to send the message that MIZIZI is not and has never intended to be exclusive to other members of the diaspora. Imagine this first release is like an invitation to the party, while Volume 2 will be a continuation of the lit ass time we all have together as we share our diverse backgrounds and experiences. The expected release for Volume 2 is Spring 2018.
7. Any future plans for you or MIZIZI that we should look out for?
Without spilling all of our secrets, I can share that our next big collection is a Fall/Winter Bomber jacket collection celebrating the beauty and strength of various goddesses. The collection is intended to represent the different historical goddesses from various cultures as well as commemorate black women of all shades. Be on the lookout for "#Afrodieties."
There you have it folks.
I can't wait for other Latinxs to get their country jerseys! I think we can all agree that this brand is super dope, so you guys should definitely look into copping a jersey for yourself! I'd like to end with a quote that Paakow posted on Twitter. It says:
"MIZIZI is s brand for the people. In everything we do, I want to make sure that we are showing up for the people - all people. My goal with every collection is for us to grow a little, not just as a brand, but also grow the perception of the word "Diaspora". This collection has definitely been our biggest growth spurt because it's new/unfamiliar territory. I really wanted to show that there is no single face or identity under "Diaspora". We wanted to stress that Latin America is part of the family. And I hope we did that."
And I'd say you definitely did, Paakow!
Andddd stay tuned to the @afrolatinas_ Instagram for pics of me in my new jersey!
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