The school, named after its proprietor, Amani Kalisa, a professional textile designer and cloth maker, is located in Kigali. Since two years ago, the school has been teaching students each stage of garment and accessory making, from design to final product.
Amani, 33, trained in India for five years. She realised that for those unable to study abroad there were no opportunities to learn at home.
Students, at present a total of 40, create a mixture of original garments and those that follow established fashion trends.
“Students are taught how to create men’s, women’s, and children’s attire, including casual wear, suits, traditional wear and bitengi,” said Amani.
After obtaining the skills, students will then be able to create design firms, and create for themselves employment opportunities that will cater for quality department stores, boutiques and high-fashion design.
Amani has decided to explore her skills and create a fashion industry in the country. By all accounts, this is no easy achievement.
The school necessarily imports fabrics and all other equipment used to create the designs. She also noted that the school uses cheap materials and relies on magazines, to see what adjustments on the design need to be made.
“The government is not showing any signs of subsidising the school, yet, fashion is an essential component of a country’s economy and culture,” Amani highlights one the major difficulties.
Hassan, a professional local fashion tailor believes too, that “Fashion” is a socio-economic issue which contributes to development of the any country.” The birth of a fashion industry will indeed create jobs and reduce the cost of clothing in this country.
And indeed there is great interest in fashion. The school was in fact born out of a clothes shop in La Bonne Addressee, Kigali, which began in 2003. In the beginning, the shop sold clothes made by Amani herself and others which were imported.
Later, Amani recognised a gap in the market and hence set up the fashion school. The shop, in central Kigali, now sells exclusively items made at the school.
In related development a similar shop grew up in the Union Trade Centre, Kigali.