As a child, Memory Jora, grew up watching her mother dress up in African inspired designs, mesmerized by the transformation. Her mother, along with the other women in her family and community adorned African prints and designs rather than western-style clothing. “There was always a sense of regality and pride about them when they wore these kinds of outfits,” said Jora.
However, Jora’s design journey didn’t initially begin with the connection to her Zimbabwean heritage. “I remember my senior collection in design school was inspired by minimalism and menswear. Somehow I was going through an identity crisis and I felt that I needed to show that I was more than just an African designer but a “Designer” in general,” said Jora. What she later realized while developing her brand and create a collection with a deeper meaning than just design. Creating the first true and authentic connection between herself and her creations, Jora drew from the richness in my culture, history, and in memories that had been within her all along. “It felt like a veil was removed from my eyes and for the first time, I could see clearly. I could still embrace my culture in my designs as well as my appreciation for the western influence in fashion.”
From that, Mory Jay was Born. The collection with African printed fabric with and modern designs and colors drawn from her vibrant heritage. Mory Jay is the result of experimenting and mixing such as faux fur, silk dupioni, and striped fabric in a way that other designers have never done.
Her most recent collection began with a yearning to travel back to Africa. When she couldn’t follow this urge, she decided to bring Africa to where she was in Dallas. “I stayed very authentic and true to my vision from start to finish.” Being that her designs are so culturally centered, Jora was questioned about possibly excluding people through her designs, but Memory stayed headstrong in her design process. “I told them that my collection is a moment in space and time of my celebration of my culture, and everything that makes me in the most authentic way possible. I don’t feel obligated to water it down or dilute so that other people can feel included,” Jora said. “I would love to see everyone wear my clothes.”
With so many gorgeous garments it’s hard for Jora to choose a favorite, however, three designs are named after three influential women through different stages of her life. “The Cecilia dress named after my childhood friend Cecilia, the Fadzi jacket named after my friend Fadzi that I met in High School, and the Ruth Dress named after Ruth my friend from college. All are women who are like sisters to me and have bridged me along the way in some form or the other to be where I am today.”
Jora dreams to have her designs worn by influential women like Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyongo. But who is the Mory Jay woman?
“She is someone who does not strive to blend in. She is not afraid to take risks and stand out. She is bold in her fashion choices as she is in every other aspect of her life and it shows when she walks into a room. Her demeanor and essence command your attention. She is very strong in her independence and point of view. She is a globetrotter, open minded to trying new things and lives her life to the fullest. She makes no apologies for who she is and where she comes from. She is content about herself and everything that make her different.”