Chief and Founder of MIZIZI International Paakow Essandoh shares with us the successful journey of African diaspora streetwear brand MIZIZI. The brand being described as a movement shows the impact that MIZIZI has had in the last four years. Celebrating individual identity and roots is at the core of the brand’s ethos. MIZIZI of recent has been recognised by Forbes and Highsnobiety highlighting the way in which the brand is paving the way within the African Diaspora. Read more to find out more about how Paakow seeks to create change.
How would you describe MIZIZI International?
“MIZIZI is the cool new African kid on the block. Meaning “Roots” in Swahili, we’re the official streetwear brand for the African Diaspora and a worldwide celebration of the individual identities that connect us all. Forever and always, our goal is to Stay Dope, Stay Blessed, and #StayRooted.”
In what ways has the brand celebrated individual identity and roots?
“Our catalog features countries from Africa, The Caribbean, Latin America & even fictional countries like Wakanda. For every jersey that we release, it’s not a question that we have to immerse ourselves in the culture and do as much ground level research as we can. Whenever we’re in the designing process, we talk to people from said communities and add in any cultural nuances to the design to ensure that when someone wears it, they feel genuinely represented. And then after production, whenever we’re creating content surrounding the jersey, we do the same thing and get different people within the community involved to help us create an authentic campaign.”
What can we expect from the brand in the next 2 years?
“I can’t give you a straight answer right now. We had a lot of plans that we were trying to set in motion this summer but due to all the chaos right now, everything is currently up in the air. My main focus is to make sure that we reach our 5 year mark and celebrate our birthday on August 30th. The future is uncertain, but I am certain that that’s where the opportunity lies.”
In what ways do you look to create change in the fashion industry?
“I’ve never been a fashion guy so I don’t have any direct intentions on impacting the “fashion” community. My priority is to have the MIZIZI family feeling individually represented while still a part of a global community no matter where they are in the world. I know how it feels when you’re alone in a new environment and having trouble making friends. Especially when the people around you look like you but come from different cultural backgrounds. However, MIZIZI creates a community that celebrates the collective diaspora. Regardless of which part of the diaspora you belong to, you also belong to the #MIZIZIfam, and that’s my impact on the fashion industry.”
What has been the brand’s proudest moment?
“Our proudest moment so far as a brand was when we landed a deal with Marvel and were able to collaborate for an officially licensed Wakanda Baseball Jersey. It all started on social media when people started tweeting us that we should make the jersey for the Black Panther movie premiere. One thing led to another and we found ourselves pushing a mock campaign across all of our platforms in order to get Marvel’s attention. It took some time, but we were eventually able to and the rest was history. Fast forward a year and we’ve worked with Disney for an officially licensed Lion King Baseball Jersey. Without the support of our fam on social media and in real life pushing for us, there’s no way we would have even made it this far. By God’s grace we’ll be celebrating 5 years at the end of August.”
Check out MIZIZI International here.