Patrick Muhire is a Rwandan fashion designer owner of the label Inkanda. During his recent fashion show, held on March 3 2012 at Umubano Hotel in Kacyiru, people were thrilled with his style because of his use of local Rwandan material.
The 31-year-old designer was born in Rwanda and studied in Uganda. He came back to Rwanda to purse a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management at the National University of Rwanda but then suddenly changed profession.
In a family of six, he is the second child to Specioza Nshuti and the late Alfred Nshuti.
“As a child I always wanted to be a doctor—to save lives. However, this changed because of my phobia for blood. I took up fashion design in 2008 during my young sister’s introduction ceremony. We failed to get the right attire for the girls to put on two weeks prior to the wedding day so I came up with an idea. I suggested that we make the clothes ourselves and that is how I started,”
‘Inkanda’ is an ancient skirt-wrapper worn by women and girls made out of bark cloth.
“It was never my dream to be a fashion designer, but when people saw my creation, they too wanted Inkanda. Three months later, I quit my job and took on full-time designing,” he said.
Muhire also studied fine art during his secondary school, which is why he paints as well. He cites some challenges that come with the fashion designing profession.
“As a fashion designer, you have to come up with different ideas. You have to put in a lot of effort in order to create breathtaking attires. What drains my energy is other people copying and using your designs without consent. You spend a lot of resources and time and when the final product reaches the market, you find your work duplicated,” a distraught Muhire said.
When asked for his comment on blending casual wear with formal wear like blending a cocktail dress with trainers, he said, “Oh my God! That is just wrong! It definitely shows that the person has no sense of fashion. There are some fashion rules that just can’t be altered.”
He also said that sometimes one has to forgo things like comfort in order to look elegant, beautiful and stylish.
“Elegance and style come at a price,” Muhire advises.
Joan St-Louis, a Canadian fashion Designer, who has worked with Muhire says he has raw talent.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how his skills and talent develop as we get to know each other better. We first met two years ago at the Rwanda Fashion Festival that was held at Hotel Des Mille Collines. His designs are beautiful and he should keep doing this. He is an asset to Rwanda,” she said.
Joan started designing as a child and held her first fashion show at the age of twelve although she took it to a professional level at the age of fifteen.
“Regarding his social status, Muhire seemed a bit uptight about marriage because of the scary encounters he has met along the way.
“My parents made me believe that marriage was the best thing in the world. But the second I got out there, I have witnessed things that prove marriage is anything but great! One time a couple contracted me to design clothes for their introduction ceremony and they seemed like the perfect couple - so in love that they weren’t even paying attention to what I was saying. Twenty minutes after they left, the bride- to-be came back and demanded that I triple the bill insisting that the ‘pig’ would pay. I was dazed,” Muhire recalls.
He wondered why the woman would want to spend the rest of her life with someone she referred to as ‘a pig!’
“Some people get married to change their status or simply make their families happy and that isn’t right,” he said.
Muhire’s favorite designer is Kuswiti from Ghana whose label is ‘Tribe’. He also likes Louis Vuitton and Gucci designs.