ZIMBABWE is a country with a rich fashion culture – a treasure trove that tells inspiring stories of natural resources that make it the envy of many.
However, mass produced low-cost fashion, manufactured in Asia and other parts of the world, is proving to be major competition for African fashion manufacturers, including Zimbabwe.
This is an opportunity that the Zimbabwean fashion design industry can tap into.
The African luxury fashion market, which will use ethical methods of production, will increase profitability. Fashion specialists around the world agree that Africa is the new fashion frontier for luxe (luxury) fashion, and I believe this is true and Zimbabwe is ready to take on this market.
In terms of resources, there is no doubt that Africa has the precious metals and stones, combined with the fine leather from its rich wildlife. Therefore there is no need to import. Africans simply needs to increase the value of these raw materials by producing fashion products with the workmanship that will make them unique and valuable on the fashion market.
Zimbabwe is also a great source of inspiration for luxe fashion.
The amazing flora and fauna around Zimbabwe inspires various artistes. Zimbabwean sculptor and jeweller, Patrick Mavros, has built an international jewellery company with inspiration from Matabeleland wildlife and culture customs.
With shops in London, Harare, Nairobi and Mauritius, the Patrick Mavros brand has gone international. A pair of his Ndoro Silver earrings have been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
Zimbabwe’s historical background and figures also build the potential for luxe Zimbabwean brands. The heroic story of Mbuya Nehanda is honoured by African luxury tea brand YSWARA Luxe’s African Queens Collection, Black Teas infusions.
Locally the challenge is, therefore, to build on the talent that Zimbabwe has in the arts industry.
By investing in handmade materials and artisans, much like we saw at this year’s edition of the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), Zimbabwe can fully tap into export quality luxury items.
Zimbabwe has the talent, the resources and rich cultural background to take the fashion industry by storm. In the words of Zimbabwean Forbes Mavros, son of Patrick Mavros, as quoted in New African Woman magazine, “African Luxury is a rarity. There are not many brands that have touched the international pulse and remained African in identity”.
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ORIGINALLY published in SUNDAY MAIL ZIM column