The Swahili Fashion Week is the largest fashion event in East Africa and a platform for both well-known and emerging designers in the region to showcase their collections and promote the Made in Africa.
This year, marking the twelfth edition, the show has happened from the 6th to the 8th of December and I had the chance to take part on the Saturday night.
It’s always exciting seeing this side of Dar es Salaam: the good vibes of creativity showing up at its best. The evening has been an escalation, culminating with the final amazing catwalk signed Martin Kalinda, young but affirmed designer, officially dressing many people of the show business industry in Tanzania and beyond.
Colors and different textures have been the leading theme of the show. It looks like the industry is ready to open up to the use of new materials and fabrics and this surely marks great opportunities for all the satellite manufacturing, where the “Made in Africa” and the handmade can have great recognition.
The kitenge and wax remain predominant for the accessories, from the shoes proposed by the afro fusion design of Samuel Zabedayo to the bags of Kulwa Mkwandule and the umbrellas showed up by Amedeus Chuwa. It has also been exciting seeing a spark of internationality in this edition, sign that this event is becoming more and more recognized and appreciated abroad too.
Three have been the designers from outside the region in the night of Saturday: the multi-featured Clavon Leonard from the USA, Palse Segapo from South Africa and Marta Zampolini from Italy. In a Country where the creative industry is still unofficial and unformal, where more than 60% of its population is under 25 and where the population annual growth is estimated at 2.9% per year, the apparel undoubtedly is one of the sectors to invest in the next future and in fact the industry is going more and more under the spotlight lately.
If the experience matured by Italian and other European manufacturers may surely add a lot of value to the local producers, the only way to move forward is creating a huger involvement for the African creative minds and giving African designers more space for shaping their own fashion world. Praiseworthy are the attempts done in this direction by creative hubs like CDEA (Culture and Development East Africa) and Naledi Dream Center and, in my opinion, whoever invests in this direction will enjoy the fruits of this very soon.