This past week was Social Media Week in Lagos. A week long conference held in Lagos on a wide range of issues. Luckily the fashion discussions were done online with topics from Blogging, Collaborations, Business of Fashion in Africa etc. It got me thinking even more about the absence of a footprint by Zimbabwean fashion people, designers, bloggers etc. It is unfortunate that the world sees Zimbabwe as an exotic land, beautiful tourist site and have not recognized the talent hailing from the beautiful land.
So basically this article is all about showing where Zimbabwe Fashion Industry stands at the moment:
2012 – Year of great advancements
This past year was a year of great improvements in the industry. This is mostly mainstream news and issues that were made public and available.
- Jewel Magazine – Jewel Magazine owned by the Mutendis turned a year old, a glossy magazine with a focus on fashion. The magazine became a prominent sponsor of fashion events and collaborations that year as well. Jewel Magazine sponsored Catherine Ruze Launch party at Meikles (Which I was not invited to…mxm *rolls eyes*); Farai Simoyi Pop Up shop and the Styled By Africa blog’s garden party to mention a few. Recently has been featuring Zimbabwean designer clothes on the cover. Shingai Shoniwa wearing IntisaarM designs and with Tinopona Katsande wearing House of Alpha Rose, however there should be more announcements on these details.
- Zimbabwe Fashion Week – This event with the help of Simon Deiner was now in the public eye with the photographs. I am not sure if David Tlale’s collection showing helped the publicity of the event as well. This event was then given a slot to show at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week AFRICA 2012.
- Business of Fashion Forum – This really helped people in the fashion industry to see where we stand. The problem however is that it was sponsored by a diasporan designer without any local designers putting in their part. Another issue is that the current structures in place at the moment do not hold ground to run a robust industry. This however was an important time to reflect on our current situation to make viable changes.
2013 – Opportunities and Possibilities
A lot of talented designers are present in Zimbabwe with Joyce Chimanye showing at various shows in Africa; Evelyn Lambert based in the U.S showing at Essence’s Harlem Front Row and Farai Simoyi based in the U.S winning a designer of the year award as well. I also have met a lot of designers who have won awards during their youth for creativity just looking for the industry to be conducive enough to attract investors. These are a few areas of concern I saw as an observer.
- This year, 2013, Catherine Ruze is going to have Fashion Weekend Zimbabwe first weekend of November. So this is another solution is to have fashion events and organize them for ourselves. However the lookbook pictures taken restrict use of bloggers to use them on their sites to make it globally viral.
- Designers need to come together and realize that they need to make this environment work. Opening shop is difficult, but one needs to have a stockist that is not the “I can custom make”, to be of a good standard. This means there is a need for a retailer or a company to sell designer clothes as well as councils that speak to designers on their challenges.
- Investment in social media partnerships. The bloggers, PR strategists and etc need to be a priority for designers. They should have a website and appear on the internet on many platforms. This helps in the new age of digital media.
- More interaction between designers in Zimbabwe and the world to bounce of ideas. Having Live Google Hangout meetings to discuss current affairs and link with other African designers in many parts of the world.
- More critical review of output is needed. It is one thing to launch a brand and get it in media. Quality control on the current state of affairs is needed. This means inadequacies with a make-up product, weave hair, magazine quality, event production and how fashion officials coordinate themselves need to addressed. This means that there needs to be more control on how fashion events are run so as to not deter sponsors. There needs to be a way in which quality of a product is reviewed versus it sponsoring advertising rights without a monitoring system on its quality on an international baseline. Shortcuts, rudeness, corrupt business conduct and other unethical unprofessional attitudes should not be tolerated.
- At the moment, only a few fashion houses have revealed their social responsibility projects. Zuvva has mentioned on their site that they support a charity cause. Ndau Collection has an anti poaching collection as well. Perhaps if fashion officials added to better society in Zimbabwe more, fashion will be recognised as an industry that helps Zimbabwean Society. Fashion needs to also fulfill social and environmental duties to society so it can gain the well deserved recognition.
So many opportunities and areas that need to be improved. New innovative ways to get Zimbabwe on the social map. We are a very literate nation and we have the potential and umphh. So the challenge to all of us is to really make our mark, Tanzania/Kenya/Namibia/South Africa/Ghana and a lot of Nigeria have made their mark in their number, it’s time fo ZIMBABWE.
Disclaimer: Robin is not affiliated with a fashion brand that influences her views. She is not a designer and her views come from her blogging since 2011. She is in no way an expert in her opinion and is merely expressing her ideas to be an advocate for fashion media literacy. Questions and comments after article.