The Sunday Mail
Two major global fashion brands, Gucci and Prada, recently experienced massive backlash over some of their products that were being perceived as racist.
Numerous celebrities including T.I, Souljah Boy, 50 Cent and film director Spike Lee called for a boycott of the two labels.
The artists fervently urged fashion buyers to support black-owned brands rather than spending money on those that were racially insensitive.
Spike Lee went on to state that he would not be wearing Prada and Gucci products until they start hiring black designers.
It is ironic that some of these high-end fashion brands continue misfiring when it comes to releasing racially offensive items despite the fact that black celebrities the world over are at the forefront of marketing their products. Even closer to home, the local fashion scene has also not been spared of the influence that these big brands have on the globe. Designer labels that include Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Versace, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Off-White and Balenciaga to name just a few, have become part and parcel of local urban culture.
While all of these are some of the most expensive brands in the world, the counterfeit community has made them accessible to ordinary people at very cheap prices. From car boot sales to established retailers, globally acclaimed high-end designer wear is dominant.
By an oddity of nature, and probably inspired by the need to establish authentic designs different from the dominant international ones, Zimbabwe has become one of the many African countries a wave of creative fashion designers, with some of them getting rare raves on the international scene.
However, these designers have received very little appreciation from local consumers who would rather stick to international imprints.
With the number of these creative people set to bloom, considering that tertiary institutions like Chinhoyi University of Technology are graduating them every year, there is a need to devise ways on how their products can be put on the market.
Now that the black community in the United States of America has started pushing for supporting their own, it might be high time locals started exploring indigenous designer wear. In an interview with The Sunday Mail Society, one of the country’s top designers, Nompumelelo Marilyn Samambgwa, said that local fashion consumption has been improving of late.
“Consumers have become a bit more comfortable to buy fashion products from local designers, for example in the last spring and summer season I got more clients than the previous year,” said Samambgwa.
“A fellow designer Tapfumanei Munenge literally dominates the local bridal fashion industry at the moment and he has also been getting more clients who want consultancy services in that area. I have also been getting more clients who need help with ideas when it comes to resort fashion,” she added.
She said that most designers are just using social media and word of mouth to market and sell their products as there are few retailers offering the platform.
“We are using social media, especially Instagram to market our products but there are retailers like Industria that are promoting local fashion designers.
“Retailers could play a bigger role because when we host fashion shows, they should send representatives or rather fashion scouts who can the pick some of our products, which can be put up for sale in their stores.”
Jan Jam founder Cynthia Bizure said she was willing to work with local designers as long as they were creating quality products.
“I don’t have a problem working with local designers as long as they make garments that can compete with the brands that I sell in the shop,” said Bizure, adding: “There is a designer who once made waistcoats for us. We put them in the shop, our customers really loved them and they actually sold out. So as long as there are designers who can make such products, they can come through and we put them in the shop.”