Tuesday, 17 December 2013

What’s in the Fashion Industry in Zimbabwe?

I was having a conversation with fellow fashion blogger Tatenda Robin @TatRobin of Concrete Jungle Fashion Zim blog and Ms.TatendaMedia, on Twitter on Sunday 8 December, 2013. And we were looking at what composites the Fashion Industry in Zimbabwe whilst in comparison to an international scale such as South Africa. Her and I have had these conversations before particularly on Zimbabwe Fashion Week and Fashion Weekend Zimbabwe (both on the blog). Although now we were looking at the clothing part of the industry within itself. Yes, a lot of events have been growing in Harare as off recent which gives our local designers a greater platform to expose themselves and their talent. Talks of the Fashion Industry are not new to the Signature Toscie blog, having covered abit of detail on Fashion in Harare (Street Fashion and Retailers).

But now the attention switches to the actual fashion and clothing part within itself; how is fashion illuminated by young people such as myself. My trick to my fashion and personal style is mixing and matching; I’m a girl stuck between Edgars, Jet and Wardrobe Mix stores with regular trips to the Avondale and Village flea market and hence I’ve shared openly my outfits on the blog. I will not lie that creating and coming up with my own Signature look is one I take seriously so I take a lot of co-ordination in what I do.

Recently I have discovered “kumabhero” (bales) and I was absolutely stunned at how second hand pieces of clothing (and I must say in good quality condition) are sold at these open markets for 90% of the cut off price compared to traditional clothing retailers (i.e. Jet and Edgars as mentioned above). Blouses here go for US$1.00- 2.00, jackets for about US$4.00 whilst a second hand pair of jeans fetch for about US$4.00-8.00. Does this however contradict with our own clothing in our own stores?

Then there is our booming luxury fashion boutiques in Harare. Luxury at its best because some of the clothes sold here are actually quite good, with European, South-African and American labels but out of reach for most fashion lovers, if not many. A blouse here can be anywhere from US$35- US$70, now contrast that with a European blouse purchased from kumabhero for 99% fraction of the price; which in most cases has only been worn once and then shipped to Africa. Furthermore, I ask you to make a contradiction here.

Then we have our growing local fashion designers who are home-grown and proudly Zimbabwean. They represent that part of the industry which encompasses a small sector of individuals with raw talent that create their vision into a garment. Some of our local designers include our affectionately known Zuvva by Joyce Chimanye; who has an upmarket but with a retro feel infused, African spirit boutique in Harare’s Sam Levy Village. Other self-made designers include Maita Marimo, Sabina Mutsvati, Colin Ratisai and Goddess (bear in mind that this list does go on) with our young, up and coming designers such as 7.30 Apparel, Rungano Rwedu, Znzorzi Adby, Nhembe Aleth, Black Excellence (all of which have been featured on the blog).

What’s further interesting to note is that our self-made designers are more recognised on an international scale with international fashion events such as South Africa’s annual Mercedes Benz Africa Fashion Week where Zuvva have showcased their collection and Maita Marimo at Nolcha Fashion Week 2013 in New York City. Why is it that foreign markets have a better appreciation of our fashion, more so than our own people?

So I go back to the question that is what is our Fashion Industry in Zimbabwe? Do our fashion lovers take the aspect of Fashion seriously or is it a measure to just keep up with the latest trends? And furthermore, as an individual what are you doing to better our Zimbabwean Fashion Industry? Are we promoting our industry or is it a means to an end?

From my own observation, a lot of young people have resorted to purchasing clothes cheaper and faster which has resulted in quantity rather than quality. This has gone insofar as our fellow Zimbabweans trekking across the border to buy clothes in Polokwane or Messina in South-Africa, whilst shunning what’s back at home. I will not lie because I have been a victim to this but then again; as a fashion blogger I’m growing to appreciate the clothing and the rising talent in my country. I remember @RuvhiPari posing a question to our guests at Fashion Weekend Zimbabwe if any of them were rocking local Zimbabwean designers that evening and to my observation only a handful ascertained this.

What will it take for our industry to shine? I remember a friend of mine who works in Edgars corner First street and Jason Moyo said to me that a lot of retailers have argued that strict import taxes should be introduced on cheap clothing flooding the country as well as European labels so as to boost the clothing industry within Zimbabwe. Furthermore going back kumabhero, a lot of young women (and yes fashion consciousness gentlemen) have resorted to buying second hand clothing in the open market. With just US$10.00, you can buy 10 different pieces of clothing; all it requires is your bargaining power and to know the value of your dollar.

During our convo, myself and Tatenda however had looked at two varying options; just as a small strategy to kickstart that Zim Fashion industry boom we dream off. There was the favoured ready-to-wear collections that are quite popular in South Africa at the moment. Ready-to-wear collections are couture clothing downsized to a level that the average Jane Doe (such as myself) can afford quality pieces of clothing made by a reputable designer. Examples of these collections include Gavin Rajah’s recent 2013 collaboration with Legit stores in South Africa and British designer Henry Holland of House of Holland with his 2013 collaboration with Mr. Price South-Africa.

Could we say this is possible in Zimbabwe’s industry, where Maita Marimo collaborates with Passport Hre on an affordable ready-to-wear collection for three-quarters (3/4) of the original price? In my opinion this could be an opening passage for young Zimbabweans to appreciate local designer talent. Maita Marimo did however have a Pop-Up shop collabo with Passport Harare from 2-8 December 2013 at Passport Boutique in Borrowdale, where her exclusive collection was on display and available for purchase. It was no doubt her collection was exquisite but my only worry was at the price tag. Can a fashion-obsessed girl like me be ever to afford it?

I took this photo of one of Maita Marimo's clothing on display at the recently ended Pop Up Shop at Passport Boutique Village. This particular Dashiki dress was retailing for US$120.00 which is about R1200.00, if the exchange rate is at 1:10

Another photo i took, beautiful festive bodycon dresses on display at Sam Levy's Chapter 2 boutique. Once again these dresses were between US$120.00-150.00 per dress.
The second option came from me, where boutique retailers and local designers dress local personalities so as to amp up their clothing and their brand;with fashion bloggers being at the forefront for me (personally). I can take a cue from Passport boutique and their November photoshoot in Out of Africa magazine that featured Pokello Nare, Hakeem Mandaza and DJ Jason Le Roux who were all dressed in Passport and Kickstart boutique clothing. This is also done monthly by JEWEL magazine that do a superb job in combining local personalities dressed in 100% local fashion for their cover spread. My vision however is to take that designer-cover feel and give it to fashion bloggers; why because of the power of our fashion sense and social media as well as our level of interaction to the real world (most of my friends are fashion obsessed like me and yearn for good fashion). This is however already emulated on international bloggers looking at Superficial Girls dressed by Mr. Price, Baked the Blog and Teeteeiswithme. Take the fashion from the magazine to the real people on the streets. I’m crazy but I believe in style and not to follow fashion trends.

My passion is to see what will become of our industry within the next 5 years. Will it grow and have different departments that includes ready-to-wear, couture, exclusive one-off pieces or loungewear OR will it continue to be a money-making venture flooding the market with cheap imports at the expense of our own textile and designer industry?

I could debate all day about our Zimbabwean Fashion Industry but now I want your opinion. Whats your take? Leave a comment below and let’s get talking.

Yours in Forever Glamour,

Stay Gorg and Glam,


  1. Reading your posts are an eye opener on so many levels. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you for reading. And you are very much welcome :)