Meet the Kigali-based designers who are shaping Rwanda’s fashion voice
Collective Rw is spearheading Rwanda’s nascent fashion industry with its strength in numbers approach. Founded in 2015 by some of Kigali’s most established designers, they work together to support each other and the local scene, thereby generating jobs and uplifting underserved communities. One of their main achievements is organising the annual Collective Rw Fashion Week, which is now in its third year. They also partner with other organisations, such as The Nest in Kenya and the British Council’s East African Arts programme, for regular pop-ups, exhibitions and workshops across the region.
“The Rwandan fashion scene is very small but has huge prospects,” says co-founder Linda Mukangoga of Haute Baso. “The collective helps to create awareness and funding for what we’re doing and allows us to share opportunities, too. It’s a more sustainable model than going it alone. No one internationally is going to come to Rwanda because there are two brands but they will come if there’s 10 – it makes the country stronger and more vibrant.”
Time to meet Collective Rw…
Cedric Mizero chooses to mix disciplines in his work, experimenting with paint, photography and wearable sculptures, in order to reflect the sensory experiences within his surroundings. He has a deep connection with nature, as well his culture and people, and his aspiration is to democratise fashion, enabling everyone to access and enjoy it regardless of their age, size, or economic status. The young talent has just been selected among 16 emerging designers for the British Council’s International Fashion Showcase 2019, which culminates in an exhibition at Somerset House during London Fashion Week next February.
House of Tayo
The Afro-dandy brand House of Tayo references the dynamic visual iconographies of physical spaces and histories in order to tell dignifying, sartorial stories about Africa. Established by Matthew Rugamba in 2011, he’s since developed a signature in super sharp tailoring. The 2018 collection, Sankara, The Upright Man, takes inspiration from the legendary Burkinabé president to create a military offering for men and women.
Haute Baso by Linda Mukangoga is an ethical womenswear brand that utilises traditional Rwandan crafts including basket weaving and embroidery, and incorporates them into relaxed, cross seasonal and versatile looks. Mukangoga launched Haute Baso in 2014 and has gained stockists in both Kenya and the US.
Inzuki commands a cult following for its statement jewellery and accessories. Designer Teta Isibo works with local artisans using traditional techniques to create her contemporary designs. Isibo’s Kobwa and Hula tassel earrings are among the brand’s most loved pieces, juxtaposing tightly woven concentric rings with generous tassels.
Former model Sarah Legrand offers eminently wearable jewellery made from natural materials such as seeds, jacaranda tree bark and cow horn, as well as silver, gold and brass. Legrand uses the post wax technique for many of her K’tsobe pieces, which are often studies in organic and architectural forms.
Established in 2015 by model-turned-designer Moses Turahirwa, Moshions is a culturally inspired brand known for its unrestricted approach to menswear. The designer embraces the generous drapes of traditional African dress styles such as the Rwandan umwitero and the Nigerian agbada, and merges them with fine detailing to create Moshions’ regal, sophisticated garments.
Sonia Mugabo was named among Forbes’ 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa 2017 thanks to the promise of her eponymous brand, which launched in 2013. Her designs are whimsical and unapologetically feminine, with her strong affinity for botanical prints giving her clothes a tropical, bohemian flair.
Begun in 2015 by friends Rwema Umutoni Laurene and Remera Mukahigiro Nathalie, Uzi Collections fuses clean silhouettes with African textile touches. Their clever use of regionally produced batik on trimming and panels, as well as cheeky cut outs, results in cool, casual looks for women while their crisp tailoring creates shirts for men.
With thanks to the British Council’s East Africa Arts programme