Top Designer Fashion Brands in Zimbabwe


Have you like me ever wondered about the structure of the Zimbabwe Fashion Industry, who  the major players are, where they are and what their brands are all about? Those questions are being answered by individuals who have come forward with articles and videos showcasing these designer labels apart from the retail stores.

On 6th April 2016, Robin Chaibva a fashion blogger and columnist of the Style Corner at the Sunday Mail in Harare wrote on her blog sharing information on the places to shop for Zimbabwean and African designs in Harare. Link



Now, a video showcasing top Designer Fashion Brands in Zimbabwe has been created by Flash Portal , a media brand specializing in Video and Photography productions. Lindani Mataure founder of the Flash portal emphasizes that “while it does appear as a ‘Top 10’ list, the broader idea is to promote the Fashion Industry in Zimbabwe.” He adds that “the Top 10 Video was made as a tribute to the Zimbabwean Fashion Industry, to acknowledge those making waves and making all Zimbabweans proud. It is surprising how few Zimbabweans know about the developments in their own country and are always looking for entertainment abroad. We would like to inspire more Zimbabwean locals by highlighting other successful Zimbabweans through some of the content we produce on Flash Portal TV…also to show the world that Zimbabwe still has good standards despite the economic hardships we face.”

Lindani has to be acknowledged for this initiative to bring to the limelight Zimbabwe’s fashion designer brands and help promote the industry. Flash Portal have been in operation since August 2014 and their notable achievements include being a video content sponsor at the 2015 Zimbabwe Fashion Week held at Palm Estate in Helensvale in Harare.

Link to the video:

This endeavour by Robin and Lindani echoes the vision of Zimbabwe Fashion Network to bring together the industry in any ways possible to prop up Zimbabwe Fashion on  the international platform. Contributions of any brands out there not mentioned in the blog and video, are most welcome.



From clothes poverty to fashion poverty


LONDON – During my visit to Zimbabwe last year, I went on a fact-finding mission of the clothing industry for the purposes of researching for my dissertation.
fashion povertyThe obvious first port of call was the unavoidable second hand clothing markets, “mupedzanhamo” or “kotamai boutiques”. What was mind-boggling were the huge quantities and the ubiquitousness in most cities, townships and villages.

This got me to reflect on the days of my childhood and, never in that time had I seen such quantities of clothing. Then, clothes were more of a luxury to most low-income people. Some children from those families would only get to have and wear new clothes once a year at Christmas.

For the worse off, school uniforms were the nearest they could dream of having new clothes. Otherwise families, in particular mothers, had to “make do and mend” with what they had and I can remember the sight of children wearing clothes that had neat patches on areas that wear out quickly.

Decades later, the situation has changed so dramatically, with the clothes poverty long gone, thanks to the second hand donations from the West. The used clothing market had become a brisk trade and means of survival for many until the recent ban. Clothing is no longer a basic necessity or hard- to-reach consumer good for the majority. I remember discussing the issue with my mother and she talked of how she used to trade in used clothes for ploughing or weeding of the fields but now these are no longer needed with people now preferring groceries and cash.

In a nutshell clothing poverty is no longer an issue. Clothes are now mostly affordable and readily available, notwithstanding the floods of cheap apparel imports from Asia. The socio-economic benefits and disadvantages of this phenomenon are apparent. The once thriving garment and textile industries have been pushed into oblivion leading to the current contention between local industries, authorities and the informal sector.  While the indaba continues, it is also an opportunity to dig deep into the other impacts of these trades. Consumption of clothing and the throwaway culture in the world and, in particular the West, has reached horrifying unsustainable levels with landfills mounting under the pressure of discarded apparel.

Recycling is one strategy that is being actively encouraged to combat the problem, through donations to charity for the Third World countries. While people are made to believe and feel that they are helping eradicate clothes poverty, I see it as another strategy of outsourcing their recycling and environmental challenges. Why not, if a large proportion of their industries and services have been outsourced with the clothing industry as the largest player. Now this leads to an interesting dichotomy, with the West having apparel manufactured in Asia, retailed, worn and disposed of in their countries, and in turn donated and shipped to Africa. How environmentally convenient!

Meanwhile in Africa apart from the socio-economic impacts, we have been pushed into nations of no manufacturing; nations of fashion laggards since we have to wait for the hand downs from the West and replicas from Asia once the needs of trendsetters have been met.

What is most annoying is how this is taken advantage of by fashion designers who, by adding salt to injury, create Africa-inspired designs and styles, leaving our own creatives with no room for ingenuity and innovation. This intrusion has led us into what I deem to be “fashion poverty”. One trend that is making headlines on the international catwalks and trend forecasting domains is patchwork-the use of different pieces of fabrics to make up a garment. Now is this not the use of fabric left overs that our mothers used to make garments and blankets from, back then. Marabhi, as they were referred to , were acquired from waste bins of clothing factories. Mothers would painstakingly join them together to produce garments or bed linen. Honestly my heart bleeds when I see designs (as in the picture below), inspired by our dying skills and lifestyles, being touted as high end couture and being sold at outrageous prices and years down the line, only to be discarded and shipped in a bale to Africa as a new trend.

*Dembedza is a holder of a BA in Hons international fashion business from Nottingham Trent University. She is into fashion consulting, branding, trends forecasting, design inspirations and theme development, market and customer researches as well as fashion directing.

First published in the Daily News.


What is African Attire?


LONDON – “African Attire” or African fashion are the two terms often used to describe the clothes of Africa. As an African British now living in the UK, I have been trying to understand what that means to Africans.

In the African Diaspora communities “African Attire” is the buzz word, the very answer to trendy African fashion.

Everyone wants to have “African attire” and there are enterprising designers and dressmakers that have emerged to meet this desire and demand. Some of the clothes are being imported from Africa because apparently there are no authentic “African attires” in the western world.

Now when I see these “African attires” advertised everywhere on line and on various social media sites I struggle to pinpoint the uniqueness or difference with any other clothes around.

What I see is a basic dress, skirt or jacket made from a patterned, very colourful cotton fabric, which makes it different from the clothes in high street shops.

In my opinion, I am made to believe that, it is the fabric that determines African Fashion and not necessarily the designs or styles of the garments.

On the international stage, African fashion and the inspirations are making a massive impact with emerging top African designers showcasing creations of African identities and fabrics.

African fashion weeks are staged in many countries in the west and in Africa where designers from the diverse cultures and traditions parade their innovative creations inspired by the acculturisation in most modern societies.

To the African designer, contemporary means using the basic silhouttes for the design but made using a fabric with African prints and expressions.

For a majority of the African countries like Nigeria and Ghana the contemporary designs are just a change or alternative from their customary clothing and traditional dress. In other words the designs are modernising the traditional dresses and also creating every day, ready to wear clothing.

There are other countries that do not necessarily have a national dress and I am now referring to those in the Sub Saharan Africa.

Countries such as Zambia and Congo have fabrics of distinct prints or colours that are used for and worn as the traditional dress to give the country the national dress identification. In Kenya, Swaziland and Lesotho it is the accessories of hats and jewellery that show the identity.

I was born in Zimbabwe, a country that does not fall anywhere in the two categories. For some reason there is no traditional dress or fashion brand identity or any widely recognised type of fabric to give Zimbabwe some kind of fashion identity.

I’m not sure what happened during or after colonisation and why the country was oddly left with no national dress identity. While other African countries enjoy the best of both contemporary fashion and national dress identity, Zimbabweans have been left in what I call a “fashion identity crisis”.

By trying to have some identity they have naturally taken onto other countries’ traditional dressing and conveniently calling it “African attire”. While there might be some comfort in this sense of belonging to Africa, there is still a desire for a national fashion brand identity.

The “African attire” trend is now influencing some top, renowned designers who are producing these contemporary designs in the African fabric. Stella Jean of Italy and Lena Hoschek of Austria have entered the “African attire” buzz with impeccable tailoring.

The many small and emerging African and African Diaspora designers and tailors cannot compete or meet the high standards of manufacturing, due to lack of or no sufficient formal fashion training.

It seems like the term “African attire” is here to stay though it is not clear what it refers to, whether it is African contemporary designs or African traditional dresses. While it is easy to identify the Japanese kimono, Indian sari, Scottish kilt or Chinese qipao, the same cannot be said of “African attire” a continent of 54 countries with a myriad of tribes and traditions. As for Zimbabweans especially those living in the diaspora, the identity crisis becomes real when attending cultural days and events. I remember once a British lady from my church telling me about the World Cultural day and that I must come in my traditional dress. She was surprised when I replied that Zimbabwe does not have a traditional dress because she was made to believe by my fellow countrywomen that there was one, yet what that they were referring to was the “African attire”.

Is it time to redefine the term “African Attire” and make sense of its reference? Yes I believe so and time for Zimbabweans to wriggle out of this African attire cocoon we are swallowed in and come up with our own fashion brand and identity.

She is a graduate in BA Hons international fashion business with first class honours from Nottingham Trent University.  With the qualification, Sylvia has progressed into fashion consulting in branding, trends forecasting, design inspirations and theme development, market and customer researches, marketing and fashion directing.


Designing for Nicki Minaj


STYLE Corner was looking forward to interviewing Zimbabwean fashion icon Farai Simoyi, who was set to headline the Zimbabwe Fashion Week at the beginning of September but has decided to postpone her trip to next year.

2008-2-1-IMG_1440Simoyi, the senior designer for the Nicki Minaj Collection, is one of the few Zimbabweans raising the country’s flag high on the global fashion stage.

Style Corner did catch up with Simoyi online and she spoke about her career and gave advice to young Zimbabweans with dreams of going global. Not many people had heard about the designer before she reached the pinnacle of Nicki Minaj’s fashion empire, despite having launched her brand in Harare three years ago.

With the help of various stakeholders in the fashion and media industry arranged by women’s lifestyle magazine, Jewel, she had a successful launch and fashion forum.

Her journey began with the decision to study fashion design and though she faced resistance from her parents who did not think it was a good career choice, she pursued her dream.

They later accepted that it was her passion, one which she was determined to turn into a career and so they got on board to support her. On the academic front, Simoyi attained a Bachelor of Science degree at West Virginia University as well as a degree in Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising with an on Design at Nuova Academia di Belle Arti in Milan, Italy.

Simoyi’s enthusiasm has paid off and her 15 years studying and practicing fashion is paying dividends, with her own label, “Farai”, growing into a global brand.

In 2012, she got international recognition after winning the Designer of the Year Award at the African Diaspora Awards.

Her career has been known more recently for being head designer for a celebrity clothing line but her career includes many other designer brands. She has worked for Beyonce Knowles’ clothing line “House of Dereon” as well as her rapper husband and business mogul Jay-Z’s “Rocawear”.

Other designer labels she designed for include “Threads for Thought”, “Private Label for Macy’s”, “Luxirie”, “Ten 25 Denim”, “L.E.I.”, ‘Rachel Roy”, “Robert Rodriguez”, “Nine West”, “Vintage America Blues” and “Anne Klein”.

Surprisingly she is not star struck and intimidated by designing for international celebrity brands, instead she focuses on the tasks at hand.

“I’m never intimidated working with celebrity brands because I know I was hired to do a job based on my experiences and qualifications. It is more of an exciting challenge, I have to understand and tap into the celebrities’ style while managing to create clothes for retail,” said Simoyi.

Despite the tough conditions on the global fashion industry, Simoyi who proudly identifies herself as Zimbabwean, has managed to land top designer posts while at the same time leaving a mark on the scene.

Her work ethic got Style Corner wondering what other young Zimbabweans can learn about how to get employment opportunities in the fashion world.

From her experience she believes that in building industry contacts and recommendations from peers and colleagues, one can land many high profile positions like she did.

“Over the years I have built a personal Rolodex of fashion industry contacts as well as social contacts within the industry. I landed the Nicki Minaj Collection (NMC) position through a social contact who was working on another celebrity designer label.

“She told me that the NMC team was looking for a senior designer and they loved my portfolio.”

Simoyi said another way of gaining visibility and landing jobs is to have an updated comprehensive LinkedIn profile, staying connected to former employers, colleagues and peers from school and being involved in a charitable organisation.

“Philanthropy is a great way to meet people professionally and socially as you are all congregating for one common thing, to help others and that also brings people together.”

The designing guru has been involved in various charity initiatives in her career.

The latest charity project that she was involved in was: “I Am Because You Are” (IABYA), which aims at being a support system for women entrepreneurs globally and one she plans on bringing to Zimbabwe next year.

The project provides tools and resources for women-owned companies and provide mentoring and networking opportunities through other successful women entrepreneurs who we refer to as “influencers”. In terms of her contributions regarding the Zimbabwe fashion industry, Simoyi stays positive and sees the potential.

“The fashion industry in Zimbabwe will rise to great heights if we all come together and work as one team.” Simoyi emphasised.

“A fashion industry is about creating a district that has manufacturers, sample makers, production houses to assist designers in developing their lines, reliable shipping to export clothes, textiles, and retail stores with policies to stock local before importing.”

The designer is working towards the sustainable development of the African fashion industry and plans to have 90 percent of the merchandise manufactured in Africa by 2016.

“I want to create products that are sustainable, ethical, and benefit the people who make them.”

Her label has already started working with a clothing factory in Ghana and they are currently looking towards South Africa with plans for all production to happen in Zimbabwe.


Bulawayo designers hit Durban Fashion Fair


THREE local designers, Zanele Dube, Sidumiso Tshuma and Saneliso Mpofu will be travelling to South Africa next week to showcase their collections at the annual Durban Fashion Fair.

The Bulawayo designers, Tshuma of Shadow by Sidumiso, Mpofu of Sanah Designs and Dube of Zah Designs will showcase alongside renowned South African designers including David Tlale and Thula Sindi.

Now in its fourth edition, the Durban Fashion Week will be held from August 26 to 29.

Dube and Mpofu who will be showcasing their talent out of the country’s borders for the first time said they were grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m really excited to be showcasing at the Durban fashion show. It’s a great opportunity for any designer to participate at international shows such as this one. My collection will represent a sophisticated and bold woman,” said Dube.

Mpofu, who was attached at Edgars Stores as a designer said: “Durban Fashion Fair is a good platform for me to penetrate the commercial world of fashion. Having been considered from hundreds of applicants is humbling.

“It’s a good push and I’m really grateful to Edgars Stores for training me to be the best.”

Tshuma who is no newcomer at the fashion fair said being invited for the second year in a row was evidence that hardwork pays.

“I’m excited to be invited once again to showcase at the Durban Fashion Fair. When you put in work in perfecting your craft, it eventually shows. The fashion fair is very competitive, you’ve designers such as Thula Sindi, David Tlale and Paledi Segapo showcasing, and hence an invitation to showcase again is appreciated. I’m going to do my best to represent Zimbabwe fashion,” said Tshuma.

The three designers’ participation at the fair is a result of the twinning relationship between the Bulawayo City Council and their Durban counterparts.

The Durban Fashion Fair is one of the leading fashion events in Africa. Through the hosting of the event, over 1,500 temporary jobs are created with 500 created through development, mentoring and training of designers.


First Published on the Chronicle Website by  Bongani Ndlovu