Zim designer finds niche in UK

HARARE - United Kingdom-based designer Yvonne Gambe Ndava recently raised Zimbabwe’s flag high when she won the award for the Best Fashion Designer in the North West of England.

Since Ndava is fairly unknown in her land of birth, the Daily News on Sunday’s Dakarai Mashava (DM) spoke to Yvonne Gambe Ndava (YGN). Below are excerpts of the interview:

DM: In a nutshell who is Yvonne?

YGN: My full name is Yvonne Gambe Ndava. I am a fashion designer from Zimbabwe, who is currently based in the UK. I also work as a banker for an International bank with headquarters in Sweden.

How did you venture into fashion designing?

Fashion has always been a part of my life. Well, my dad worked in a clothing retail shop in Harare and my mum was a housewife, but she used to make dresses as a hobby and sell them off.

This helped make me very keen and particular about clothing. Coincidentally I ended up doing a fashion and fabrics module at high school and learnt the art of tailoring from that, among other things. I went on to follow a different path in life, after moving from Zimbabwe to the UK. I graduated with a BA Honours Accounting and Information Systems in 2010. I have worked for a corporate bank and a retail bank since then.

Although I found banking quite interesting over the years, I also felt like a lot was missing in my life, until one weekend when I remembered how happy tailoring made my mum. I got up and asked my husband to drive us to buy a sewing machine at the local Argos.

I made something that I wore to church the next day and wowed my female church colleagues. From then on, it has been Yvonne Yvette Designs.

My designing drive came from wanting to include African prints in everything I make. I wanted to include African print in a way that makes it stand out and look attractive and not look too traditional. With that

Do own a fashion label?  Has your label attracted some big names over there?

My fashion label is Yvonne Yvette or YY in short.

Through the label/brand I have worked with the likes of singer Kyriah Dee, fashionista and media personality Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri, author Ava Brown, Women4Africa founder Tola Onigbanjo, MTM Accountants director Mary Majoni and have dressed several other UK-based Afro-Caribbean personalities for many major events.

Please note that clients really like to wear my designs for events such as wedding, award shows and special dinners.

What awards have you won?

I won the Black African Women Rock 'People's Choice' award in 2015, I have also been nominated for Best Fashion Designer at the Women4Africa Awards 2016.

Last month I won the Best Fashion Designer in the North West of England at the BMD Law's Fashion and Beauty Awards ceremony in Liverpool. My biggest achievement to date was successfully presenting my collection at the recently held Manchester Fashion Week 2016.

What are your future plans?

I just want to grow the brand and hopefully one day bring it to the high street via major distributors in Europe, Africa and across the world.

I also hope to find the right people to partner with and bring urban African fashion to the limelight with major catwalk presentations, musical, TV , art presentations, retail shop placements and many other showcase avenues.

Are you in touch with the Zimbabwean fashion scene?

I am and I try to look back and see what people are wearing, the music, the new slang etc. I am connected to a number of designers via social networking sites such as Facebook, twitter and instagram.

Can share with me Zimbabwean designers based in the diaspora and in Zimbabwe who have impressed you the most?

United Kingdom-based Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri has done well in the industry with her trendy bags. Her work has been recognised by big names from Zimbabwe to the USA.

South African-based Zimbabwean designer Ngugi Vere is also doing well around the African continent. Also David F E Alford, his designs have got an edge to them and they stand out. I think people will be talking about him a lot in the future.

In your own opinion who is the best Zimbabwean fashion designer ever?

It's a no-brainer for me. It's the late and great Kiki Divaris. I know she was originally from Greece but Zimbabwe was also her home and she did do a lot for the country's beauty and fashion industry.

Comments (1)

Yvonne Yvette we love you and your gorgeous designs. Keep flying the flag high, there is no limit to greatness.

Taya - 1 August 2016

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.