A decade ago, Zambia’s textile and clothing industry had all but withered into the dust as privatisation sapped the vigour of the industry and reduced the Zambian public to consuming cheap Chinese goods. However, the last few years have seen a resurgence in the fashion industry with more young designers bursting on the scene.
The annual Zambia Fashion Week offers a platform for local emerging and established designers to showcase their designs to potential clients and buyers. There’s also a Zambia Fashion Council, founded in 2014, whose mission is to develop a thriving and profitable fashion industry in Zambia.
With Zambian designers being invited to showcase their collections at fashion weeks around the world and bloggers increasingly working with major brands, the Zambian fashion scene is set to take off. Here, we take a look at five labels and designers that are shaking up the Zambian fashion industry.
Deborah Chuma’s fun and flirty self-titled brand is one of the most anticipated at Zambia Fashion Week every year. The 20-something-year-old began her career in 2009 after taking a class in tailoring with the goal of going abroad for fashion school, as Zambia does not have an established fashion institution. Chuma’s designs mix vintage material that she finds at second-hand clothing markets.
Her most recent collection, Oracle of the Honey Bee, features a dark palette with tiger prints, high-waisted leather black pants and military-inspired tones. At last year’s Zambia Fashion Week, Chuma’s models walked the runway with black tape pasted on their foreheads and black roses in their mouths.
Esnoko by Chiza
For 16 years, Chiza Ngulube has been making quality men’s bespoke tailoring using fine African prints and fabrics. Ngulube opened Esnoko’s first standalone store shortly after showcasing at South African Fashion Week A/W 2016.
His latest collection, Esnoko S/S 2016, features chitenge (Zambian print) pants and tuxedo blazers. Standout pieces include a modernized version of the Sibiza, a traditional outfit worn by men of the Lozi tribe in Western Zambia, and caped-sleeved blazers.
Mangishi Love by Kapasa Musonda
A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, Zambian designer Kapasa Musonda established her Mangishi brand in 2012. She’s since gone on to showcase collections in L.A, Palm Springs, Atlanta, Adelaide and Lusaka.
The ready-to-wear pieces in her Mangishi Doll line consist of unique prints and bold colors mixed in unusual yet rhythmic ways. The word mangishi is derived from the Nyanja language, referring to a piece of wire twisted into an artistic craft.
ChizO Designs by Chisoma Lombe
Chisoma Lombe is the founder and owner of ChizO Designs, which has been operational since 2013. Lombe made her Zambia Fashion Week in 2014. She’s since gone on to showcase at Zimbabwe Fashion Week and will soon show at Accra Fashion Week in October 2016. Her designs feature colorful embroidery, which she says is because she likes to make bright, bold and unique outfits that channel “the beauty of nature.”
MaFashio by Sekayi and Tukiya Fundafunda
Started by sisters Sekayi and Tukiya Fundafunda in 2012 as a street style blog showcasing Zambia’s most fashionable individuals, MaFashio has morphed into a personal style site that promotes the local fashion industry by spotlighting designers and covering events like Zambia Fashion Week and Fashion Day Out. In 2014, they were named Zambia’s best fashion blog at Zambia Fashion Week.