New platform to showcase local designers’ skills

Local fashion designers have welcomed a new platform designed to help them bring their success stories to light and showcase their creativity to a bigger audience.

The new fashion initiative, dubbed Kigali Fashion Design Challenge, seeks to promote professionalism among little-known fashion designers and improve the quality of fashion collections, its initiators say.

During the challenge’s first edition, held in Kigali on Saturday under the theme ‘Modeling for fun and for good cause’, over 40 tailors working across Kigali showcased their work.

Members of the public in attendance, including those from United States of America, Japan, China and India ended up being models for the designers.

According to Justin Sunday, the CEO of Kitenge Fashion House and the brains behind the event, the initiative will help improve the quality of local fashion products.

“We want to prove to the world that quality fashion outfits can be made in Rwanda because there are many people who wrongly use ‘Made-in-Rwanda’ and create wrong perceptions,” he said.

“This is, therefore, an occasion to prove that our fashion products are of good quality and are affordable, different from public perceptions out there that Made–in-Rwanda products are expensive,” said Sunday.

He said 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.

The outfits showcased during the challenge over the weekend were tailored and submitted to Kitenge Fashion House before they were brought to the budding models to showcase at the D-day.

During the challenge, tailors made the outfits without taking measurements of the models who showcased them during the show, just to prove their creative skills and talents in the tailoring profession.

The modeling was done by customers of the competing designers, before A four-member panel of judges led by 15-year-old fashion enthusiast Eunice Kariningufu, alongside media personality Ange Soubirous Tambineza, American fashion enthusiast Liam La Fountain and Eisha Khan, from Kashmir Province of Pakistan.

The jury would mark the best outfits based on three criteria, namely; the ‘look’ of the outfit at 50 per cent, the ‘touching and finishing’ of the outfit at 25 per cent, and fitting (how the model looks in the outfit) at 25 per cent.

The challenge saw Hawa Niyonkuru, a designer from the Kigali City Market, emerge the winner as the best designer for female outfits, walking away with a cheque of Rwf100, 000; while Florence Ingabire won the same prize for the best designer for male outfits.

Meanwhile, both models with the winning fashion outfits took them home for free.

After winning the challenge, Niyonkuru said the platform is a motivation for her to showcase her creative fashion trends as she aims to do even better in her tailoring profession.

“I feel very motivated, not just because I won this challenge, but because I realised that a number of people, not only locals but also global community, appreciate what I do,” she said.


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