UP CLOSE WITH ZAMBIAN PLUS SIZE FASHION DESIGNER TOWA
Towa Mungandi is a Zambian Plus Size Designer, marketing specialist as well as a writer who is based in Namibia. She has a her own brand called TOTO by Towa, which mainly focuses on plus size women but she caters for all body types because she believes that al body types matter. Towa has a degree in fashion and is currently furthering her career to focus on the marketing side of fashion. was featured on BET’s Fashion Show Made in Africa, which was hosted by Nandi Madida. The aim of the show was to bring emerging designers to the fore front of the continent’s fashion revolution and to promote the use of local styles and cultures.
She Being a more inclusive designer, Mungandi exists in a space she found lacking as she perused the fare from other plus-sized designers. TGZMag had a chat with the young designer and this is what she had to say;
“I remember telling my cousin: ‘Listen, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to go to university. I’m going to become a fashion writer and I’m going to become the editor-in-chief of Vogue’,” she says. “That was the plan. At 10, that was the dream.” It’s a dream Mungandi has half fulfilled with a BA in fashion from Cape Town’s Fedisa, while polishing her flair for styling at the Design Academy of Fashion on weekends.
“The first thing I learned at fashion school is endurance. Nobody is going to baby you. The way ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is, that’s exactly how it was,” Mungandi says, recalling how she once cut her hand but just kept making a garment with bloody fingers so she wouldn’t hand it in late and lose a tonne of marks.
Even then Mungandi wasn’t beyond receiving her drawing assignments back with the dreaded red appraisal of “Sketchy lines! Sketchy lines!” etched all over.
Crediting Fedisa for teaching her the importance of deadlines and showing up as the best version of yourself, Mungandi also owes the school the name of her line, ‘Life Through Rose-Coloured Glasses’.
“As hard as fashion school was, I had this pair of rose-coloured glasses and I would wear them to school and genuinely have a better day,” she says.
“When the pandemic happened and I was working on the collection, I went to Chelsea and I saw all these rose, burgundy, blush pink and mauve hues. It made me so happy,” she says.
“I thought maybe all those colours, all the vibes and energies that these colours bring, would make somebody feel better through all this. So that’s why I picked the colours, and that’s why I picked the name. It’s all connected to that one experience I used to have at fashion school. The name was a no-brainer. It’s a full circle.”
Though the line’s colors hark back to Towa’s days at fashion school, they also push back at the idea that bigger women should preferably wear black.
“Regardless of their size, people want to wear clothes that they like and vibe with. I hate this narrative that bigger woman have to hide and that we have to cover up. That’s why a lot of this line is also very transparent,” says Mungandi.
“With black the idea is to compress and blend into the background. But we don’t want to do that. We want to be in the front, loud and vibrant. This line is also about being a woman in whichever way you want to be one,” she says.
“It’s about not having to be nice to people. Not having to accommodate people and just being sensual, feminine and beautiful in your own way,” she says.
Being a more inclusive designer, Mungandi exists in a space she found lacking as she perused the fare from other plus-sized designers.
“The problem with plus-sized stores is that the clothes are never really flattering. After school, I remember looking into brands that specifically cater for plus-sized women and finding not a single plus-sized designer on the list of employees,” she says.
“They were all ‘regular’-sized, and I remember thinking: How can a regular-sized woman design for plus-sized women? That makes no sense to me. You have no idea how our bodies sit and how they move, and that’s why I started a brand.”
Describing her own style as the sartorial expression of her ever-changing Cancerian emotions, Mungandi ends her current line’s debut with an ongoing sample sale, and plans to pivot to custom, couture and plus-sized wedding dresses so bigger women can avoid those snotty looks in bridal shops.
“The main ingredient in a TOTO by Towa piece is confidence,” she says.
“We want a woman or a man to put it on, head out and immediately feel like the best person in the room.”