Anifa Mvuemba, a Baltimore based fashion designer from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), perhaps gave us a peek into the future of fashion post-COVID-19 pandemic with her β€œPink Label: Capsule Collection-Inspired by Congo" online fashion show.

With the lockdowns imposed globally as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the fashion industry has been unable to organize events to showcase the latest fashion.

However, it appears Mvuemba could have a solution as she held an online fashion show for her new collection on Instagram. What made it more interesting is that she presented the garments using 3D videos that featured no human bodies but had a human structure to demonstrate how they could look like on women.

"Riddled with a painful history, the beauty of Congo is often untapped and overlooked. The gentleness, beauty, history, poise, majesty, strength, power, and hope of the Congolese spirit inspired this collection. When creating each piece, I was reminded of the stories my mother told me of the women she knew back home in Congo. Women who suffered great loss but still, mustered every ounce of strength everyday to show up," said Anifa Mvuemba.

Congo's cobalt and coltan mines that use child labour

That was not all though.

Mvuemba also used the virtual fashion show to highlight the problems in her home country around the illegal mining of cobalt. Specifically, at the beginning of the fashion show, she highlighted how some mines in the DRC are using children to mine cobalt.

Cobalt, along with coltan which is another mineral found in abundance in the DRC, is a critical component in the making of modern jet engines, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and electric cars. With the growing popularity of both smartphones (and other mobile devices) and growing interest and adoption of electric cars, the demand for cobalt and coltan is ever-growing.

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The DRC is the largest supplier of cobalt globally and it also holds approximately 60% of cobalt reserves across the globe. Given the rising demand for these minerals, some mining companies are using corrupt and illegal methods to mine cobalt and coltan mostly using child labor.

Recently, Apple, Tesla, Alphabet, Dell, and Microsoft were named in a lawsuit filed by 14 families in the DRC who accuse the technology companies of benefiting from cobalt child mining.

Digital modeling

What has also made Mvuemba's virtual fashion show unique and catching the attention of many on the Internet, is unlike previous attempts at virtual fashion models, hers does not wish to reproduce humans in digital form.

We have previously seen virtual models such as Shudu which aims to replicate the looks of a black model in digital form. Shudu is also an influencer who has already secured some paid partnerships with various brands and companies.

"My hope is that this collection inspires all women to stand tall in their power and like the Democratic Republic of Congo, to use their history, whether pretty or painful β€” to redesign their future. My country, the land of Congo, is ripe with an abundance of natural resources β€” the greatest of which are its people β€” its women."

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