Local Design: Mami Wata

WORDS Lindi Brownell Meiring

What started out as a discussion between three friends on Muizenberg Beach about two years ago has since become a brand that celebrates surfing, design and Africa.

Mami Wata, literally “Mother Water” in West African pidgin English, is a water spirit that appears in the form of a mermaid, and the namesake of this proudly local surf brand. Co-founder Nick Dutton believes that Africa is the new frontier in terms of design, and importantly for Mami Wata, surf exploration and culture.

“We believe the brand is an example of how Africa’s role and impact on global creative culture is increasing, whether that’s in art, design, music, filmmaking or fashion,” he says. For him, it is important that this Cape Town-based brand’s products are designed, sourced and made on the African continent.

The inaugural collection features a range of T-shirts, vests, shorts and caps for men and women, as well as surfboards and fair-trade coffee called Congo Black, the result of a collaboration with Bean There Coffee Company. The eye-catching prints and patterns in the Mami Wata range are designed by the brand’s co-founder and creative director Peet Pienaar, and the surfboards are hand-made by South African master shaper Hugh Thompson.

Mami Wata is planning to launch a new range of shirts at the GUILD concept store in Cape Town’s Silo District, including a design entitled I Am The Ruler, which Nick feels best represents what the brand stands for.

“It’s original, it’s African, it’s surf and, when you really look at the detail, it’s a bit bonkers.”

For more information, visit mamiwata.surf.