Zim online fashion store makes mark

HARARE - A Zimbabwean online fashion store going by the name Zedlabel has been created with the objective promoting local fashion designers and the development of the Zimbabwean fashion industry.

The online fashion store, founded by Mellisa Mazingi last year in August, has lined up several initiatives.

The Zedlabel founder is confident that their initiatives will bear fruit.

"We do so much more than sell clothes. In addition to providing a selling platform for local designers, we provide loan funding to talented Zimbabwean fashion designers through our Fashion Finance Programme to grow their businesses and produce ready-to-wear collections for sale.

“We also have a second funding programme called  the Fashion Finance Kickstart Programme (FFKP) through which we have financed three young designers: Chido Rupango of Doyenne, Patience Geraldine Tseriwa of Courtesy of Gerri and Tanaka Leroy Samukange of 7:30 Apparel.

“The designers went through three months of training and mentoring on everything from fashion illustration to costing and business management and then produced a collection of handbags that were showcased at this year’s Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa).They have now produced their graduation collections under the theme "Summer In...." Each designer chose a city or country as inspiration for their collection,” said Mazingi.

Mazingi said she launched Zedlabel and its funding programmes with aim of spurring growth in the local fashion industry.

"I have run fashion events and a public relations company since 2011, helping local boutiques, stores and designers grow their businesses through providing marketing and business strategy services.

“Through that I realised that in order for Zimbabwean designers to grow their businesses, they needed to move from being made-to-order ventures into producing and selling ready-to-wear products.

“ I created Zedlabel as an avenue for local designers to sell ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, but saw that there was a need for a lot more development activities in our industry, to train young designers and provide some of the infrastructure that is missing. The Fashion Finance programme was created as well as the Fashion Fundi programme under which training and mentoring workshops are held for designers. There is also the fashion factory - a shared workshop that can accommodate up to 4 designers," she added.

Mazingi is also the founder and managing editor of Zim Fashionista, a fashion and lifestyle website that provides fashion news and features on Zimbabwe. The website was nominated for the Zimbabwe Fashion Award for Blogger of the Year in in 2013 in recognition of its role in publishing fashion articles for Zimbabweans at home and abroad.

As a fashion journalist, Mazingi, a graduate of the Women Journalists Mentoring Programme of the United States Embassy, has taken part in several newsroom tours in Zambia and other countries.

The Zedlabel founder, who  is part of the inaugural 2015 class of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP), holds the belief that growth, be it economic, social or personal, comes from creating something new.

Her vision is business leadership in the fashion, events and lifestyle industry in Zimbabwe and beyond, and the betterment of the community through her businesses and projects.

The "Summer In..." graduation fashion show will be held on August 29 at the residence of the Dutch Ambassador in Harare.

The #FFKP designers will showcase their collections on the runway, while other local designers will have their products for sale before the show. Tickets are $10, which includes high tea and the fashion show, and are available from zedlabel (info@zedlable.com, +263 738 490 947).

Rudo Nondo is the creative designer at ANAIA and founder of The Fashion Market, a market that promotes local designers. She is the country coordinator for Fashion Revolution Zimbabwe, a movement promoting ethical and sustainable fashion. Coming from a law and business background, Rudo has always been passionate about fashion and conscious consumerism and believes in fairness in the fashion supply chain.

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