Last month was an eye-opener for me as far as fashion on the African continent is concerned. The South African Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) commissioned African Fashion International (AFI) to put together a fashion show comprising top designers from the continent.
Taibo Bacar (Mozambique), Arapapa and Santa Anzo (Uganda), Sindiso Khumalo (South Africa), Alphadi (Niger), Sophie Zinga (Senegal), Tina Lobondi (DRC), Kiko Romeo (Kenya) and MaXhosa by Laduma Ngxokolo (South Africa) were invited to showcase in Johannesburg, South Africa. But they were not just invited to showcase garments rooted in African heritage and re-imagined in a global context. No. Fashion was a big part of the conversation. The designers also attended the Pan African Cultural Congress and gala dinner. At the end of it all, fashion is now a conversation of utmost urgency in Africa, a solution to unemployment and a creative opportunity to launch Africa as a producer of quality goods, not merely a consumer.
Where am I going with this? Well, it is high time we all woke up and put our support behind our own fashion designers.
You may have your traditional wear but how many designs created by a Ugandan do you own in your wardrobe?
Sylvia Owori, Santa, Raphael, Gloria Wavamunno, Kwesh, Brenda Maraka, Ras Kasozi plus so many others are working tirelessly to put Uganda on the world fashion map and making huge strides abroad, but little gains at home.
I challenge you today to go buy yourself originally Ugandan designs and have as many as you can, not only to support our own, but also look authentic.
The western world is looking to Africa for design inspiration. Let us celebrate that.