You may not know the name Farai London, but there’s no doubt that you’ve come across the Black-owned brand that, despite winter drawing in, is keeping Hot Girl Summer truly alive and well. The label's statement-making prints, flesh-flashing cuts, and sumptuous velvet playsuits - meant to be worn "somewhere exotic and hot," according to founder Mary-Ann Msengi - has taken over our Instagram feed this summer, and are giving us the vacation vibes we need right about now.
Msengi founded the brand in July 2020, and, for a label that launched in the midst of a global pandemic, Farai London is already making waves. Loved by the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Jordyn Woods, Jourdan Dunn, and Lori Harvey, the brand - available in UK sizes 4 - 16, with a price point of £25 - £89 - went viral just a month after launching thanks to Kylie Jenner's triptych of Instagram posts, in which she racked up a cool 9 million likes looking phenomenal in her multicoloured Farai Gaia Dress. “I don't think I'll ever get used to that feeling of seeing a celebrity wear something that I’ve designed, created and produced," Msengi, who has worked remotely with a team of ten all summer, tells Refinery29, "especially when its celebrities I have looked up to and admired.”
Despite the fact that she always wanted to be a designer, initially, establishing her own label felt like it was too risky of an endeavour due to not having a traditional trained background. This imposter syndrome is often the case for Black business owners, but, thankfully for us, Black-owned brands have been going from strength to strength in recent years. “It soon dawned on me that it was even riskier to not give it a shot because I would much rather be able to say I tried and failed, then say I didn't try at all," she tells us.
Refreshingly, in a time when small businesses need our support now more than ever, Msengi is honest about the less glamorous side of launching your own label. “Everything has been very exciting, but also very tough. There's a lot of pressure to deliver all the time, and I always want to bring my A-Game. It's truly been physically draining and stressful but when you finally launch a collection and see all the positive feedback and happy customers, you realise it was all worth it and in those moments you know you would do it all over again. I'm also someone who absolutely loves the grind - I attribute a lot of the drive and inspiration behind Farai to my grandma, who also used to sell clothes that she had sewn by hand in South Africa. I wouldn't have it any other way. ”
Now, though, the self-belief is real: “In the very beginning, I hoped Farai London would go viral, then, as I started to have more faith and we caught a little bit of momentum, I believed it would - and eventually it got to a point where I "knew" it would. It doesn't make the feeling of trending on Twitter or blowing up on Instagram any less special.” It’s not just famous faces that can’t get enough of Farai London, though - it really is for anyone wanting to keep the spirit of Hot Girl Summer alive. “I get a huge kick out of seeing non-celebrity customers wear my pieces as well.” Says Msengi. She continues “I appreciate every single one of them."
The last few months have clearly been a whirlwind of a time for the brand, but there's no slowing down now. With a new collection dropped this week, which features the signature Gaia cutaway dress in a plush velvet material - perfect for virtual Christmas parties this season - to the marble print asymmetric body con dress, which we'll be saving for the first pool party we can get to next year, we'll race you to the check out to snap up a new-season piece.
It’s so exciting to see numerous Black-owned businesses thriving in a time where some may have said it was impossible: Black Girl Magic stops for no one. Msengi says “Much bigger and better things are coming for Farai, we’re just at the beginning of what I truly believe will be an epic journey.” And you can bet that we - and Farai's 27,000 Instagram following - are coming along for the ride.