OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrates African women who are making waves, shattering ceilings, and uplifting their communities.
Kahindo Mateene made her debut to the world on Project Runway Season 12 and continues to develop her ready-to-wear design label based in New York City. Mateene is a Congolese woman who established her brand in 2009 (Modahnik), but it is now known as KAHINDO. The label encapsulates the “nostalgia and modernity" of her American and Congolese culture.
Kahindo's clothing aims to empower women who want to embrace their femininity, with classic silhouettes seen in mid-century Americana looks. The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago alum is also into creating bold statement pieces for the modern thinking woman, with a global outlook. Her work has been featured in WWD, Huffington Post, Essence, Marie Claire, Chicago Sun-Times, New-African Woman Magazine, California Apparel News and recently, British Vogue.
Mateene was born in Uganda and traveled around Africa, Europe and the Americas—and this multi-cultural exposure is reflected in her work. A notable experience for her was attending the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy's Residence Program in 2011.
These days, Mateene views fashion “as a vehicle for conveying cultural perspective and betterment of a society." She believes that when you empower women, you empower a whole society. She champions this cause through philanthropic endeavors in her native Democratic Republic of Congo, by repurposing the brand's fabric scraps into handbags made by Congolese women.