African Talent Leather Design Showcase 2023 Winner: Mercy Chewetu Mukupa

Showcase Winner: Mercy Chewetu Mukupa

African Talent Leather Design Showcase 2023 Winner: Mercy Chewetu Mukupa

Mercy Chewetu Mukupa is the founder and creative director of Queen of Chitenge Fashion Limited in Lusaka, Zambia. With a passion for African textiles, leather and a commitment to local craftsmanship, she blends traditional techniques with contemporary design. Beyond aesthetics, Mercy prioritizes sustainability and community empowerment, she speaks about her commitment to creating opportunities for women and youths across urban and rural Zambia through her label.




Tell us about the inspiration behind your project:

The inspiration behind the design, ‘Fusion of Cultures: A Sustainable Approach to Leather Jacket Design Presenting the Mwila’s Jacket,’ stems from a deep appreciation for the rich tapestry of cultures and craftsmanship that exist around the world. We wanted to create something that not only celebrates the inherent beauty of leather and African textiles but also addresses the pressing need for sustainability in the fashion industry.

What do you think makes leather a great material to design with?

Leather possesses a unique set of qualities that make it an exceptional material for design.

Durability and Longevity: Leather is renowned for its durability, allowing for the creation of products that can withstand years of use. This reduces the need for frequent replacements, aligning with sustainability principles.

Timeless Aesthetic: It carries a classic, timeless aesthetic that transcends trends. This means that leather products have enduring appeal and can be cherished for generations.

Versatility: Leather’s versatility allows it to be used in a wide array of designs and applications, from fashion items like jackets to accessories like bags and footwear.

Texture and Feel: The natural texture of leather is both tactile and visually appealing. It adds depth and character to any design, creating a sense of luxury and sophistication.

Adaptability: Leather can be treated and finished in various ways, making it suitable for a broad spectrum of styles and looks. It can be supple and soft, or structured and firm, depending on the intended use.

Sustainability Potential: When sourced responsibly, leather can be considered a sustainable material. It is biodegradable and, with proper care, can last for an extended period, reducing its environmental impact.

Craftsmanship Showcase: Working with leather often involves a high level of craftsmanship. The material demands precision and skill, allowing for the creation of intricately detailed and finely finished products.

Patina Development: Leather develops a unique patina over time, reflecting the experiences and journey of its owner. This characteristic is cherished by many, adding sentimental value to the product.


How has this competition influenced your view of working with leather in the future? 

Participating in this competition has profoundly influenced my perspective on working with leather in the future. It has illuminated the immense potential for combining traditional craftsmanship, sustainable practices, and cultural elements to create truly exceptional designs. Through this experience, I’ve come to appreciate the nuanced balance between the inherent qualities of leather and the imperative to adopt sustainable approaches. It has reinforced my commitment to responsible sourcing and ethical production methods, ensuring that any future projects involving leather prioritize both environmental and ethical considerations.

Furthermore, the competition has sparked a deeper interest in exploring innovative techniques for working with leather. I’m now eager to delve into alternative tanning methods and explore ways to repurpose and recycle leather materials to reduce waste.

In essence, this competition has solidified my belief in the versatility and timelessness of leather as a material, while also highlighting the necessity for continuous innovation and sustainability in its use. Moving forward, I’m excited to integrate these newfound insights into my future design endeavors, creating pieces that not only showcase the beauty of leather but also contribute to a more conscious and responsible fashion industry.


Click here to learn about the Africa Design Competition.

Click here to learn more about leather and sustainability.