Fashion industry under scrutiny

HARARE - Struggling Zimbabwe fashion industry members recently met in Harare to discuss the way forward for their trade under the auspices of newly-formed Harare Fashion Council.

Beryl Kanyowa, the council’s head said their idea is to prioritise fashion trade in Zimbabwe to ensure its contribution to the economy.

The forum brought out important insights in the trade.

It was successful with panellists presenting on pressing issues that need to be solved in the industry.

Renowned designer, Joyce Chimanye of Zuva Clothing Brand lamented the lack of reasonably-priced labour in Zimbabwe.

“Hiring labour is too expensive for emerging designers so they need support from the fashion council,” she said.

Farai Simoyi, a Zimbabwean designer based in USA said the local industry lacks proper channels of communication.

“There is lack of communication in the industry and the fashion council should create at least an online forum for networking.

“A forum should be accessible to those local and abroad. This forum will be open for discussions, concerns, questions and ideas.”

Kanyowa questioned the place of Zimbabwe in the global fashion sphere.

“Globally fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry. What is Zimbabwe’s share to that? What are we doing individually and collectively as a fashion community? Let us work together, the industry is our responsibility.”

A representative of Truworths, a clothing merchandiser bemoaned the lack of garments worth buying on the local market.
“Most local designers are not producing garments worth buying.

“They are not neat and well-constructed that’s why Truworths, a group of companies, opts for imports from SA,” Tavonga Gonyora of Truworths said.  

The fashion industry is bursting with players but a stakeholder in the fashion industry, Shamiso Ruzvidzo said confusion is abound.

“Currently there are a lot of activities going on in the industry but we do not know who is who.

“For instance there is Zimbabwe Fashion Week, Harare Fashion Council, Zimbabwe Fashion Council, and Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers Association and so on and the industry members get confused because these organisations do not work closely with us.

“Let us work together, let us know one another,” said Ruzvidzo Olga Muhwati of Culture Fund said the industry needs to be restructured.

“The main problem is that the entire industry needs to be organised and restructured. It is no longer a matter of lack of funding.”

Most occasions, members of the fashion industry have raised challenges on funding as their major problem.
Karin Davidson of Top Model Management suggested that it is prudent to make use of professional models when doing fashion shoots.  

“The modelling industry is linked to the fashion industry and fashion designers should take models seriously and stop using their friends and relatives for shoots and shows. It is unprofessional and unethical.

“Let us educate both the designer and the model that they depend on each other therefore they should support each other.”

Designers were given a challenge to be more creative. “Let us create designs that are distinctive, designs that can be identified as 100 percent Zimbabwean.

“Let us stop copying the European, American or East African styles. Let us focus on making our own style”
Kanyowa said the fashion industry is growing and stakeholders mean serious business.

 “The Harare Fashion Council and Zimbabwe Fashion Council should merge and form one fashion council.
 
“The industry is not yet mature enough to have the two because they are on the same mission with the same vision serving and representing the same people,” said Kanyowa.

The head of Harare Fashion Week, Kanyowa, is currently in talks with the founder of Zimbabwe Fashion Council, Miriro Matema, based in South Africa.

“We have agreed to officially announce the merger in January 2013.

“We are going to combine our projects and ideas, and start working together as Zimbabwe Fashion Council.”

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