10 October 2017
Week 1: Kampala Fashion Week!
I arrive in Kampala on Monday 25th September and get straight into fittings for the upcoming shows. Today we are fitting for the SEED show. The seed show (Skilled Expressive Entrepreneurial Designers show) is run by the US embassy to promote fashion entrepreneurship among the youth in Uganda’s fashion industry. The ten finalists receive mentorship by an established designer and training in sustainable methods of production. They each present one look for the opening show of Fashion week.
I am part of the LDJ Production team who have come over from New York to help produce Kampala Fashion Week since its inception in 2014. We are working closely with Gloria Wavamuno and Edward Sempa who, on top of presenting their collections, are also the organisers of KFW. Edward previously studied fashion print at Central Saint Martins before returning to Kampala to start his own brand Catherine and Sons. He now has a studio with 40 machines and a store in the centre of Kampala. Using environmentally responsible materials and recycled fabrics, each of his pieces are unique.
- Image - Gloria Wavamuno’s collection (left) and a look from Edward’s collection (right) during fittings.
Fittings for the rest of the designers continue for the next couple of days. Each designer brings their collection and we select and fit models, style the collection and arrange the run of show. I get the volunteers to teach me Ugandan in between fittings. Ugandans have a very special and warm energy- I can’t really describe it. Located in a beautiful tropical forest setting of the Muyenga hill district of Kampala, KFW was certainly not your typical fashion show venue. The shows ran from Thursday through to Saturday with a lot of dancing in between! There is currently a lot of tension in Uganda over the government’s wish to remove age limits for presidential candidates. Having been in office since 1986, Musevini is pushing for re-election again in order that he can remain in power for life. The multiple arrests of opposition leaders and protesters have sparked frustration among Ugandans. This along with the poor traffic circulation in the city means everything happens at least two hours late!
I am surprised by how young most of the designers are and most of them are self taught. Among my favourite designers were those who featured innovative ways of using existing natural or recycled materials. Garments were made from bark cloth, a fabric made from the bark of the Matuba tree and accessories made from banana leaves or recycled tyre and polythene.
I got to know the designer behind Njola Impressions-the amazing recycled tyre accessories. She is extremely passionate about her vision and the recycling aspect of her work. Her next step is to train girls (100 per month and she is hoping to train 1200 girls in 2018) how to make the accessories. In this way her mission is to clean up the streets by using waste materials, whilst teaching young women a marketable skill.
- A look from Gloria’s collection on the runway. Visit http://www.vogue.it/en/vogue-talents/news/2017/10/06/kampala-fashion-week-uganda-ldj-productions/
for more images of KFW.
- One of the SEED show designers and his design featuring banana leaf hat and collar and bark cloth dress. The bark cloth was organically dyed to produce the blue colour.
For more information about PFF and my involvement with them, please read my introduction here: http://www.sarabandefoundation.org/2017/09/20/cecily-the-paper-fig-foundation/