[Trend Setter Tuesday] Guwala da Nele
What is Guwala da Nele?
I, Garmai- Korto Matthew, am the designer of the Afrocentric and modern influenced clothing line that goes by the name of GUWALA DA NELE. Guwala da Nele means “Beautiful and Strong” in my father’s dialect, Kpelle, a Liberian language. My line includes African inspired garments to eccentric pieces. I am 19 yr. old innovator currently on the journey to make her mark on the fashion industry in a huge way.
How’d you begin? What sparked the interest in designing?
My fashion journey all began at a very young age. In elementary school, I drew thumbnails and sketches of phenomenal garments I would someday pursue to create. I tried to indulge in all things FASHION that Cleveland had to offer. For example, my freshman year of high school at the tender age of 14, I participated in Fashion Week Cleveland as a volunteer. I worked hands on with designers around the city at one of Cleveland’s biggest fashion events. I participated in fashion shows all over Ohio such as Lake Erie College, Cleveland State University, and Kent State University. My senior year in high school I was the winner of Cleveland’s hottest radio station 107.9’s Next Hip Hop Designer Contest. I was up against two greatly skilled designers who had been in the business longer than me. I always had an artistic gift and was motivated to achieve my goal of being a Fashion Designer.
From where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
I grew up in Cleveland, OH and was raised in a rich African Culture. My parents are from a country in West Africa by the name of Liberia. My family always encouraged me to embrace my culture. Through this, I was inspired to create modern traditional wear that were more fitting and fashionable than contemporary tradition attire. I also have a deep passion for her hometown of Cleveland, OH. Music artists such as Bone Thugs and Harmony, Machine Gun Kelly, Kid Cudi and local artists like A.R.T.C and Keyel truly inspire me to put on for Cleveland. I have worked with several Cleveland music groups and faithfully listen and gets others hip to their music while lacing them in her rare garments. She also has made many pieces in homage to her love for the City on the Lake.
Is your line for everyone? (For example kids, men, women, older people)
Guwala da Nele is catered to the fashion forward individuals who are not afraid to embrace other cultures and its beautiful assets. My clothing ranges from pre-teen all the way up to young adult. On the other hand, at the end of the day, there’s no age limit for who can wear decked out crew neck sweater! Anybody can wear them. I also cater to today’s modern day hipsters and hippies. Individuals who love nostalgic items, influential decades and have a love for their hometown tend to rock my clothing. For example, I created tie dyes due to my inspiration of African indigo dyeing. Lots of people who love all things 70s bought those like a running faucet!
What’s your line say to the consumer?? When I put on this brand what does that say about me?
My line says that Africa is beautiful. Its fabrics are beautiful. Its people are beautiful. Africa and its sense of fashion is not all about grass skirts and shirtless women many TV networks try to portray. African culture is fierce and just as steezed out as American culture and all other fashion forward countries. By wearing Guwala Da Nele, an individual is basically telling their peers that they aren’t afraid to show how universal African culture is. Consumers are considered to be advocates to create Africa, or Liberia in general to become one of the other fashion capitals of the world.
Beyond the obvious goal of gaining financially, what is the biggest goal for your line this year? What about long-term?
This year I plan to get as many of my peers and favorite local artists in my clothing. I want to get my name out their there within my city and gain the hearts of all the fashionistas in this beloved city. I also plan on putting forth my utmost effort in being the best fashion editor of all time of THEY SAY, I SAY, WE SAY Magazine, a Liberian youth magazine created and edited by young Liberian innovators all across the U.S! The photos presented are from the first fashion spread I did in collaboration with JFRED the talented photographer of KIGZ WITH GUNS. I plan to continue teaming up with local photographers and making more mind blowing fashion spreads. In the future, I plan to go back to Liberia and change Liberia’s infrastructure by expanding my business manufacturing wise. I want to add to Liberia’s job force and create respectable jobs for the people through my clothing line and other business ventures I plan on pursuing. I also want to create better irrigation systems and bring technological advances through philanthropy.
Is there any new piece of clothing that you’re excited for the world to see?
YES! I am excited on finishing up my first set of Guwala da Nele’s crew neck sweaters for girls. I am also, excited to work on more tie dye monkey tees as you see in the photos. Lastly, I am working diligently for new screen printed tees. This will be the first digitally printed tees of Guwala da Nele.
Every line has a signature piece Polo & Nautica’s bread and butter has been their 2 button short sleeve oxford shirt. What do you believe yours will be?
I believe mines will be my rare, homemade, embellished crewnecks, my micro mini dresses, and my digitally printed tees. I have yet to see any of these garments created by anyone else and I believe they’re quite a catch!
More than anything else how do you want the line to be remembered?
ALL THINGS AFRICAN ARE ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL! Guwala da Nele is a clothing line you don’t want to take your eye off of. When I drop something new…IT’S ALWAYS A HIT! Delivery. Steez. Drenched in culture. Guwala da Nele is the perfect depiction of pride in oneself, country and sense of individuality. JOIN THE MOVEMENT.