As the Government of Rwanda continues to promote the Made-in-Rwanda campaign, local fashion designers continue to make an impression not only on the local scene, but also on the international arena.
We look at some of the events that defined 2018:
Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show
Fashion lovers, in September last year, came together to witness the creations by local designers, who in turn left them fascinated with their stunning collection of the African print designs that were showcased at the 6th edition of the Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show.
Local designers who took part in the show included Cynthia Rupari of Rupari Agency, Charlotte Shema of Touch of Rwanda Fashion Designs, Patrick Muhire of Inkanda House, Diane Mugeni Ngendahimana of Mundi Collections, while foreign designers were CM Class from DR Congo, Fathia Creations from Ghana and Esther Lam Couture from Nigeria.
Models displayed different amazing fabrics like African prints that included kitenge, kente, and barkcloth fused with modern touch to create colourful outfits.
Compared to the previous event, this year’s edition was better, given that the number of people who attended was bigger compared to those who attended previous events.
Kigali Fashion Week (KFW)
Arguably the biggest fashion event in Rwanda, the annual fashion gala has seen an incredible rise and is, as a result, regarded as a great platform for local fashion designers and models to showcase their creativity and talents in the industry.
Kigali Fashion Week 2018 was marked with creativity, variety of fashions and well trained models.
The annual fashion event attracted 16 fashion designers from different countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Nigeria and Rwandan local designers, both locals and from the diaspora.
From local collections like like Rupari Designs, Inkanda, Amami Collections and Ferooz to foreign-based fashion houses like Sol& Wax from Switzerland and Sahorn from Germany, as well as finest fashion collections from African designers like Turuso (Nigeria), Ritha Collections (Burundi) and Real Manembe (Congo) among others, designers had a lot to showcase through impressive cat walks from models.
What made the event more entertaining was the participation of young models from Mahama Refugee Camp who were also among the most talented models to hit the runway.
Collective RW Fashion Week
Fashion enthusiasts last year had their share of an exquisite show as local fashion designers made a splash on the runways in this year’s Collective RW Fashion Week.
In its third edition, the Collective RW Fashion Week that took place in July had popular local designers House of Tayo, Sonia Mugabo, Inzuki, Haute Baso, Moshions, and Amizero showcase their collections.
The event is organised by Collective Rwanda, a group of five young fashion designers — Matthew Rugamba, Sonia Mugabo, Teta Isibo, Linda Mukangonga and Moses Twahirwa, who aim at promoting locally made designs and attracting local, regional and international fashion designers, models and other technical personnel to build a regional and internationally collaborative platform that will benefit all.
Kigali Fashion Design Challenge
In May, local fashion designers welcomed a new platform ‘Kigali Fashion Design Challenge’ that is designed to help them bring their success stories to light and showcase their creativity to a bigger audience.
The new fashion initiative seeks to promote professionalism among little-known fashion designers and improve the quality of local fashion products.
During the challenge’s first edition, held in Kigali in May last year under the theme ‘Modelling for fun and for good cause’, over 40 tailors working across Kigali showcased their work.
They made the outfits without taking measurements of the models who showcased them during the show, just to prove their creative skills and talent in the tailoring profession.
Organisers say that the event will be happening twice a year to allow for more designers to showcase their fashion business and at the same time grow their market reach.
C&H Fashion Show
Chinese-owned C&H garment factory is proving to be one of the leading textile factories in Rwanda, if the impressive outfits showcased at its fashion show held on Wednesday at the Institute Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC) Kigali are anything to go by.
A variety of unique clothes made in Rwanda were showcased as the fashion show involved different fashion styles made by students with skills gained from a six-month training programme provided at the college.
Some of the pieces included office wear, leisure outfits, uniforms and sportswear, among others.
The skills achieved during the programme were pattern making, sewing practises, and repairing techniques among others.
On the international scene
Fashion designer Charlotte Shema founder of Touch of Rwanda Fashion Designs that deals in men and women collections, was in October among local entrepreneurs, who took part in the week-long 18th Busan International Footwear Textile Fashion Fair Expo, organised by Busan Metropolitan City, and hosted by Busan Economic Promotion Agency, from October 4- 10.
The annual show is one of the most highly anticipated events in South Korea, and a gateway to market entry in the overseas market by having one-on-one consulting with buyers from cross the world.
For Shema, the event was a door opening for her to market her company, as well as present Rwanda on the international stage.
On February 19 also, Rwanda’s own Pierra Ntayombya of Haute Baso was among the selected design talent, alongside major names such as Karen Walker from New Zealand, Bibi Russell from Bangladesh and Burberry and Stella McCartney representing the United Kingdom, that showcased designs at Buckingham Palace under the commonwealth Fashion Exchange.
Ntayomba showcased her Haute Baso, a piece from upcycled mosquito net, paper beads, and reclaimed glass beads woven by the Ugandan Ihato crafts organisation.
The initiative was created by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and Livia Firth, founder of eco-philanthropy Eco-Age.