Born in Haiti, raised in Haiti and New York. Sophie Patel fell in love with Fashion at a very young age watching one of her aunts who was a seamstress, and started by making dolls clothes for her dolls and soon all of her friends wanted clothes for their dolls. As she grew older she began to learn more about her African roots, and Haitian Culture. She then fell in love with wearing head wraps after learning the true meaning behind it. She went on to study Psychology and International Relations even though her passion was fashion. In 2013 she decided to get her degree in Fashion this time and follow her true passion. Ginen Creations is her way to merge her Haitian culture with her African roots. I had the chance to have a talk with her about her work and what she think about diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry. Let find together how she describes herself and what are her thoughts about the argument.
Who is Soso Patel? (a portrait of YOU: tell us about yourself!)
My name is actually Sophie but I’m known as Soso, I’m a wife, mother and as you know Fashion Designer, I’m a travel junky, love to just go and see the world. I’m also a bit of an introvert unless it has to do with fashion lol. I also consider myself a very spiritual person, it’s one of the things that helps keep me grounded and focused. Tell us the origin story of your brand.
Where are you based and who are your clients?
I started Ginen Wrap back in 2013 but officially launched it 2014 it was then called Ginen Creations by Sophie. I stared sewing very young and would make clothes for my dolls and my friend’s. As I grew up I took a different path away from fashion with my education and career. But then finally decided to make a complete turn around, went back to school and studied Fashion this time. Ginen Wrap is mixture of my African roots and my Haitian culture. I wanted somethingthat represents both… hence the name Ginen. it’s a representation of all that I am spiritually and as whole. When I first started we were solely based in Florida, but over the years we’ve traveled a lot and lived in different cities and countries, so I’d say Ginen Wrap is based wherever I’m at. My clients consist of mostly women with a big portion of it being black women. Many black women are finding their way, and reconnecting more and more with African culture and headwraps play a big role in that. The goal is to also have a wider option for kids and hopefully adding male fashion as well in the near future.
What are this year’s trends when it comes to turbans and head wraps? During your time in Italy, did you get involved in the fashion world? Wereyou able to create a market for your work?
I’d say lots of prints. Prints are becoming the thing with even a lot of big artists/ Celebrities rocking printed patterns, also big bows and Headbands which are not full wraps but add just the right amount of pop to your outfit. Women are becoming bolder and more comfortable when it comes to their personal styles, whether it’s clothing and/or hair accessories and it’s beautiful to watch. Oh yes, being in Italy did not only inspire me creatively, I was also able to attend a few shows one of which was Afro Fashion Week Milan. But to be completely transparent I couldn’t personally take part in any shows or fully conduct business due the fact that we were there as a military family. But, I did take the opportunity to network and meet some great souls with great minds with whom I plan on working with moving forward.
What do you think about the issue of inclusion in the fashion industry in Italy? What is the situation like in other places where you’ve lived?
The issue of inclusion in the fashion industry I feel is global. Whether it’s Italy, France, or the US, or any Fashion cities black designers and models always seem to struggle to be included compared to others, or be looked at after when there’s no other options. Personally I feel that it’s a complete shame being that we play a big part in fashion trends, we are often copied, whether it’s a hairstyle or how we wear our clothes,
but somehow are the ones not i n c l u d e d . That’s whyit is critical, and I mean very important that we create platforms that cater to showcasing our talents, hence shows such as Afro Fashion Week Milan, Africa Fashion Week London, Ankara Miami Fashion Week and others.
Do you think you’ll come back to Italy? If so, what do you think about the Afro Fashion platform? Do you think it could serve as a springboard to help build recognition for your brand in Italy?
Yes that is definitely the plan. I will be taking frequent trips to work with a few people I’ve been wanting to work with, with Afro Fashion Week Milan being on the list. It was a great and proud feeling finding out there was such a platform in Italy for Afro designers, models and talents. It is imperative that we display our creatives.
Photo Credit: © Soso Patel
di Michelle Francine Njilla Ngonmo – presidente Afro Fashion Week Milano (AFWM)