Mahlet Afework “Mafi” is a fashion designer based in Addis Ababa. She started her career at 16 as a model and musician, while simultaneously studying nursing. She left school and quit modeling to follow her passion and become a professional fashion designer. She has since gained critical acclaim for her cutting-edge designs; winning the 2012 Origin Africa‘s design award, showcasing her work at African Fashion Week New York 2012, and winning the 2010 Designer of the Year award from Alliance Ethio-FranÃ§aise at European Fashion Day in Addis.
Mafi works exclusively with hand-woven fabrics made by women. She creates clothing and accessories which are fresh and cutting-edge and at the same time very wearable. Working with hand-woven fabrics is a way for Mafi to give back and to support women weavers who are often marginalized within the male-dominated weaving community.
The connection between hand-woven fabrics and Ethiopian culture and history is something Mafi explores in her work. Culture and tradition can sometimes become as essential and as invisible as air. Pushing herself creatively Mafi produces contemporary pieces with ancient fabrics, giving visibility to the diversity and depth of Ethiopian culture and tradition.