Zambian fashion designers dazzle in local Fashion Week

Zambia’s fashion industry showcased some of its best works at the annual Fashion Week in Lusaka which attracted 50 designers including some from neighbouring countries in the region. But there is no textile industry to support young designers in the country.

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (REUTERS) – Leading designers in Lusaka presented vibrant collections at this year’s Zambia Fashion Week. Models strutted down the runway under bright lights wearing an array of vivid colours and distinctive patterns.

Now in its tenth year, the annual event brought together 50 veteran and novice designers with some coming from neighbouring countries like South Africa.

Nadesda Chibanda, a local designer sees this as an indication that the fashion industry here is growing.

“I feel like it’s growing, obviously this year we have showcased over 50 designers and it’s just a sign that we are getting somewhere, a lot of designers are starting to emerge and actually starting to take designing as a passion and not only a passion but also a way of making money and a way of living,” said Chibanda.

The fashion industry across Africa has been steadily expanding, with more and more shows being held throughout the continent.

Still, Zambia’s fashion designers face a plethora of challenges; one of which as some audience members pointed out is the lack of adequate training schools and colleges.

“I think that the quality of some of the work needs to be improved on. And I think that they do need some support from the government, schools where they can actually learn how make clothes, quality clothes and also just encouragement for people who like retailers who can actually buy and sell their designs either locally or internationally,” said Abigail Nyienrenda who attended the show.

Local designers, most of who are based in Lusaka, say they need more platforms to showcase their work. Craft markets and fairs like this one provide some opportunities for designers to interact with their customers.

t Created from locally sourced materials and fabrics, the clothes here can cost up to 200 US dollars making them out of reach for many Zambians.

Karen Nakawala, a Fashion Business Analyst believes growing the struggling local textile industry is part of the solution and might help designers reach a wider local audience.

“I think at the moment it’s very difficult for the designers to produce anything and sell it at a competitive price in the country because they are competing with clothes that are coming in from China, from India from all over the world that is coming in cheaply, and for them because they have to import the raw materials that they have to use, so obviously then they have to charge a premium,” she explained.

Organisers of Zambia Fashion Week said they hope next year to attract even more designers and create the sort of buzz seen around high end events in African fashion capitals like Cape Town, Abidjan and Johannesburg.