By Ange Theonastine Ashimwe
Nowadays, East African fashion is bold and daring, and this reflects a generation that is not afraid to say what they think or wear what they want. Fashion is not just a means of clothing for a body, it is a statement, and designers are well aware of the power they hold.
As an industry that is immensely growing, Rwandan designers continue to market the feeling they know people put on fashion, and people continue to hang on to their every move in the fashion world.
Their fashion brands are a love affair between Rwandan culture, modern design, and the predictions of the future to create fashion trends that are capturing the fashion world, little by little. Here are five Rwandan fashion designers you’d be a fool to overlook.
Teta Isibo – Inzuki Designs
Inzuki was created by Teta Isibo, and it specializes in jewelry, accessories, and home decor that are handmade of local materials. Teta loves saying that all their products are ‘Rwanda-made, Africa-inspired, and Globally-loved’.
Teta is one of the people behind the local Rwandan flair at Bisate Lodge, and she provided different items for guests to purchase at Bisate Lodge. Inzuki products fuse traditional craftsmanship and contemporary style by working with numerous artisans who use their skills to translate designs into vibrant pieces.
She is making a major mark in the fashion industry. When she quit her job in urban planning in the mayor’s office in Kigali to become a businesswoman, she knew what she was doing, and she demonstrates through her bold and daring accessories with a color touch.
Courtesy of Inzuki Designs
Moses Turahirwa – Moshions
When we talk about Rwanda’s fashion brands, Moshions comes to mind. It was established by a model-turned-designer who became the second run-up in Mister Africa, Moses Turahirwa in 2015. Moshions fusion of modernity, ancestry, anarchy, severity, and spectacle and depth makes the label unique.
Moses with his team create unique designs that reflect Rwanda’s culture, and they mainly draw inspiration from imigongo, a traditional art form featuring geometric designs like zigzags and squares. Black and white simple patterns have become a signature to the brand.
Courtesy of Moshions
Sonia Mugabo – Sonia Mugabo (SM)
After interning at Teen Vogue in New York, the designer, Sonia Mugabo, returned to Rwanda to launch her fashion label which she named after herself. The ways she merges elegance and simplicity with beautiful bold patterns make Mugabo stand out among other local designers.
In March 2017, Sonia Mugabo was mentioned among “30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa” by Forbes.com.
Courtesy of Sonia Mugabo (SM)
Linda Mukangoga & Candy Basomingera – Haute Baso
After admiring each other’s designs from a distance, Linda Mukangoga and Candy Basomingera merged their enterprises – Haute Rwanda and Baso Designs – into Haute-Baso. It produces some of the most creative, colorful, and innovative clothing accessories translated from Rwanda’s vibrant culture and history.
The Rwandan Haute-Baso brand continues to uplift the “Made in Rwanda” brand. Part of it, it empowers women by training and equipping them with skills that help them to be independent women that make their own money.
Courtesy of Haute Baso
Nathalie Remera and Rwema Umutoni Laurene – Uzi Collections
Uzi Collection is an afro-futurist fashion brand that was founded by Rwema Umutoni Laurene and Nathalie, in 2015. The Uzi Collection’s main focus is to create a brand that empowers young people and to increase the economy of Rwanda through the fashion industry.
Courtesy of Uzi Collection
Uzi Collections has partnered with a boutique called Bold Africa which includes the collections of African designers, with stores in Kigali and Kampala. They distribute their products across the USA, Canada, and Europe with a store in Kigali.