On the African continent, west and south African capitals Lagos and Johannesburg are usually the frontrunners of fashion design, with designers building international names for themselves. However, as we have seen on Planetfem this week, East African designers are hot on their coat tails, with emerging designers fusing local craft and traditional fashions with Western-inspired concepts, thus ensuring they are one step ahead of the ever-changing international trends.
Fashion in the East, despite being under-resourced is booming. Kampala held their first ever Fashion Week in 2014 and tickets sold out early on. The show featured ten Ugandan women and menswear designers, including Natasha Karugire, the daughter of President Yoweri Museveni. Africa’s Next Top Model winner, Stacie Aamito wore Natasha’s designs down the catwalk.
And the designs were impressive. Proudly African in descent, African prints and hues, accessories made from cow horn, even a dress made from bark cloth. It was easy to see the designs were also inspired by the west – polka dots and sixties asymmetrical dresses – all combined with retro haircuts, razor-straight haircropped, dreadlocked and beautiful afros, framing the fusions perfectly.
Jose Hendo is a Ugandan designer who is now based in Britain who exhibited her designs in Africa for the first time at the show last year. “In so many ways anything to do with being artistic is a struggle here,” she said, “people don’t take it seriously.”
New York Fashion Week’s production crew—LDJ Productions— supported the show technically and were also responsible for supporting the Mumbai, Toronto, Miami and Losa Angeles versions too.
The CEO De Jong said that Uganda’s talented designers and others working in the industry meant that the Ugandan fashion industry could be a “huge, huge economic boost” to the nation if properly supported to become even more success.
photo credit: New Vision