Mam-Maw (Modern African Man Modern African Woman) fashion range is the creative brain child of Shantel Mam-Maw. The ready to wear brand, which was launched in 2012, uses African prints and fabrics to create beautiful, wearable designs that are designed to fit into the everyday lifestyle of the modern woman.
Shantel was inspired to launch her brand after travels to Ghana, in west Africa, exposed her to seeing the prints being used in gorgeous designs. She said: “At that time we didn’t have anything like that in England that I could see on a large scale. I thought, you know what, let me just buy a few wholesale, and I will sell them to family and friends, see what they think. So that’s what I started doing and then people were just buying them in droves, and I thought okay, maybe there’s something here!”
Shantel comes up with the designs for Mam-Maw in an organic way. Choosing to design for everyday life rather than go for contrived themes. “I design a bit differently, I think about the Mam-Maw woman, I think about her lifestyle, I think about where she’s going to wear this, what styles will fit into her lifestyle seamlessly. I don’t necessarily do themes, I’m more about fitting the print into her life so if she’s going out socially – weddings, cocktails with friends, or after work drinks or at the office, or just on her daily, weekly errands around town, or picking up the kids from school. You know she still wants to present herself in a nice manner and represent the beauty of Africa.”
Shantel is proud of her Jamaican heritage. Her grandparents came over in the Windrush era in the 50s and 60s and she credits her impressive work ethic and love of fashion to her grandmother who was a seamstress and sewed for the likes of Jeff Banks, back in the day. However, she has a real love of the African print.
“I wanted to reconnect with some of my heritage as well, just to be able to learn about the fabrics and where they come from and what the prints mean. I wanted to reconnect to my roots, but beside all of that, the prints are just so beautiful, so vibrant and amazing… I just love them. The colour alone just gets me sometimes and the history is just so rich.”
An area that Shantel is passionate about is quality within the African print industry, probably sparked by her background in corporate quality control. “I think that’s what makes Mam-Maw stand out because our quality is very high and we take it very seriously. It’s very important for me because at the end of the day, when I go out and buy something, I want to buy a quality garment, at a good price and that’s not going to fall apart. It’s only right that the customer gets good quality garments, so yes I take that quite seriously.”