It is only fair to say that during the recently concluded 73rd FIFA Congress, which was held in Kigali, fashion met football, and Rwandan fashion designers were the biggest winners. Several local fashion designers got the opportunity to showcase their work, from supermodel Adrian Lima donning Maryse Mbonyumutwa’s ‘Asantii’ designs to FIFA President Gianni Infantino and other renowned public figures endorsing House of Tayo’s ‘Ijezi’, a major win for Rwanda’s fashion industry. However, among all of them, it couldn’t be a more appropriate moment for Matthew ‘Tayo’ Rugamba to showcase his ‘Ijezi’ iconic design which has since become Rwanda’s aficionado sportswear. ALSO READ: House of Tayo's flash of fame in Hollywood During the inauguration of the Kigali Pelé Stadium on March 15, Infantino and his wife Leena were seen posing with ‘Ijezi’, the name derived from the English word ‘jersey’, along with other visiting delegates, to confirm that the colourful football shirt has come of age. Rugamba, the founder of House of Tayo, rightly celebrated the moment as his shirt continues to become popular among football lovers and celebrities who find it funky and appealing in many ways. Some actually confuse it for the national team shirt, thanks to Rugamba’s genius to capitalise on the passion Rwandans have for football, and now the design has gone global. “Earlier today during the unveiling of Kigali Pele Stadium ahead of the 73rd #FIFACongress. Rwanda to the World and the World to Rwanda,” the fashion house tweeted. ALSO READ: House of Tayo features on Black Panther 2 premiering red carpet Tayo, as he is commonly known, added that when he designed the ‘Ijezi’, he wanted to create something that celebrates Rwanda as far and wide as possible. He, however, said that he and the vision board didn't see ‘Ijezi’, which debuted on the market in 2021, becoming as popular as it is today. He added that he’s extremely grateful for the opportunities and progress. “I am very grateful for the opportunities to display my work on such significant platforms,” Tayo told The New Times. “While my team and I work hard to elevate our work and expand our reach, such opportunities only emerge when there’s decisive leadership, willpower, and effort,” he added. Tayo attributes this exposure to the leadership of President Paul Kagame, who himself is an ardent promoter of ‘Made-in-Rwanda’ fashion. He points out the collective effort and planning of various organisations including the Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and others for positioning Rwanda’s fashion industry to tap into such global events. “I am also particularly thankful to the Imbuto Foundation for making fashion and the arts a focal point in their activities,” he added. Over the years, House of Tayo, a member of the CollectiveRw ensemble, has earned global recognition mainly for clothing international celebrities and Hollywood icons. Established in 2011, House of Tayo has a record of dressing celebrities including singers Burna Boy, Davido, Lupita Nyong’o’s brother Peter Junior Nyong’o, and basketball legend Joakim Noah, among others. Other important personalities who have directly endorsed House of Tayo designs include Amadou Gallo Fall, the National Basketball Association (NBA) Vice President and also Head of the Basketball Africa League (BAL, and singer Mr. Eazi. ALSO READ: Celebrities who rocked House of Tayo collections Other stars who have donned the customised jersey include Nigerian singers Adekunle Gold and Ruger, Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie and celebrated Kenyan-born DJ of the Dallas Mavericks, Poizon Ivy, among others.