Fashion is one of the most glamourous industries in the world. But behind the glamour and shine is a lot of hard work, sweat and sleepless nights. One person who would attest to this? Zimbabwean fashion designer, Farai Simoyi, a veteran in the fashion industry who has never shied away from paying her dues in order to reach the top. An awe-inspiring story that shows that sticking to what you truly love will always produce excellent results…….
Farai Simoyi was born on the 1st of October 1983, in London, England. Her parents Reuben Simoyi and Priscah Mujuru moved back to Zimbabwe when she was a year old. The eldest in a family of three, Farai attended Groombridge Primary school, and it is whilst in Zimbabwe that her love affair with fashion began, a key reason why the country will always hold a special place in her heart.
Farai’s courtship with fashion started at a very early age. When she was just five years old, her aunt, who owned a lingerie shop, would give her scraps of leftover materials to play with. Farai would then use the material to create clothes for herself and her dolls. What seemed like child’s play would years later become a world-renowned career.
The Simoyi family left Zimbabwe for the United States of America, when she was ten years old, where they settled in Morgantown, West Virginia. After high school Farai enrolled at West Virginia University and studied psychology. However, after her freshman year, she decided to leave psychology in favour of her first love, ‘fashion’, and in 2005, she graduated from the university with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Designing and Merchandising.
After university, Farai travelled to the Capital of Fashion, Milan in Italy. Here she spent a summer at the prestigious Nuova Accademia Di Belle Arti furthering and finessing her education in a country with a very rich culture of fashion dating back to the 11th century. After this short stint, and much knowledge acquired, she then moved to New York City to kick start her career in fashion.
Her first job in New York was as an assistant. With tenacity she worked her way up the ladder to become a technical designer. Farai’s big break came when she became a senior designer at the now defunct House of Dereon, a label which was founded by Beyonce Knowles and her mom Tina. Being part of such a reputable brand opened a window of opportunities for the designer who has since worked with Rocawear, Racheal Roy, Annie Klien and Robert Rodriguez amongst others.
In 2015, she became the senior designer for Nicki Minaj’s collection. There, she has been entrusted with the prestigious task of seasonally producing a line which aesthetically reflects Nicki Minaj’s vision, one of the biggest female hip hop stars in the world.
In 2020, Farai was part of the first edition of Netflix’s reality show, a fashion competition called Next In Fashion. The show follows designers from around the world as they compete to win a cash prize of $250 000 and an opportunity to debut a luxury collection on fashion retailer site Net-a-Porter. On the show, Farai teamed up with Kiki Peterson and the two will be remembered for the controversial street wear episode, which caused a famous guest judge to walk away (that’s where we’ll end before we spoil it for you!)
In 2014, Farai got married to Ayo Agbede. Besides their marital union, the two are also business partners and co-own The Narativ House x Brooklyn Kettle Café.
Farai’s rise in fashion was not easy, especially being a woman of color. But, her achievements in the fashion world have shown that where there is a will there is a way. In 2020, in what could possibly be the biggest boss move of her career, Farai became the new director and professor of fashion design at Thomas Jefferson University. The University has one of the best internationally ranked fashion design programs in the world, and Professor Simoyi will be adding her magic and zest to it. Farai had this to say of her appointment….. “This is the most natural step I’ve ever taken in my career. I believe all of my work and experience has led me to this position.”
Indeed, her future looks brighter and brighter and the world agrees. We know that the fashion world is a much better place with Farai Simoyi’s presence and creativity making its mark worldwide……
By: Chido Kakora