Style
Photo courtesy of Haute Baso.

Style Dimension: Pierra Ntayombya Wants Young African Designers To Tap Into the Power of Collaboration

The CEO of the Rwandan label speaks on the mission of the brand and the importance of investing in young talent.

Style Dimension is OkayAfrica's seven-part series highlighting emerging designers from Africa and its diaspora. Along with giving you a glimpse of each designer's stunning work, this series is an introduction into their creative realm. In the fifth edition of the series, meet CEO of Rwandan brand Haute Baso, Pierra Ntayombya.

While fashion is often seen as a tool to push pop culture trends, there's not much focus on utilizing design to uplift and create economic independence for people in low income communities.

On the other hand, Rwandan label Haute Baso recognizes the value in ethical fashion and creating ready to wear pieces characterized by elements of traditional African craftsmanship. CEO Pierra Ntayomba, who handles operations of the brand founded by Linda Makungoga in 2014, expresses how the brand recognizes the potential of young women by offering them training and employment—an investment that creates skill development at a fair wage and within a safe working environment.

Most of the women working with Haute Baso are the sole breadwinners of their households. The partnership with the brand enables them to feed, educate, and provide healthcare for their loved ones, which ultimately reduces the long-term cycle of poverty associated with many African countries. The brand has worked with 275 artisans in Rwanda so far.

Haute Baso's current collection is inspired by Rwanda's vibrant and timeless culture paired with sustainability, technology, modern design and comfort.Through their pieces, they utilize traditional skills such as basket weaving and embroidery in their relaxed, cross-seasonal looks in an innovative way. Their commitment is to make accessible clothing that is stylish, simple and builds confidence in their buyers.

I spoke with Pierra Ntayombya about Haute Baso's goal as a brand and how they want to shape change using style.


Photo courtesy of Haute Baso.

Amarachi Nwosu for OkayAfrica: How does your African heritage shape your approach to design?

Pierra Ntayombya: Our African heritage is rooted in community and collaboration which are central to how we design and produce each piece. We work with primarily female led cooperatives to develop and produce each piece—as the saying goes, it takes a village.

What are your thoughts on the current landscape of the fashion industry in Africa? Do you think the industry is evolving quick enough to creatives who want to build global brands?

There's a shift in the current landscape in African fashion where the aspiration to be a global brand meant successfully entering the Western market. However, today we are seeing a new focus on servicing the gaps in the continental market. This current landscape is encouraging, however, there is still a substantial opportunity to improve the infrastructures across the continent to ease the exchange of goods and service, allowing for the African fashion industry to reach the global level.

Photo courtesy of Haute Baso.

How are you actively trying to change norms or evolve the industry and African narrative through your brand?

As a brand, it is part of our design ethos to highlight the functionality and versatility of traditional African skill sets. Our narrative is driven by a transparent value chain to highlight the talented artisans and cooperatives that collaborate with us with an intentional investment into up-skilling. The fashion industry can seem like an "exclusive club" which can only thrive if we share and invest in young talent, and stretch ourselves beyond just using Kente or African prints.

What advice would you give to other young designers?

To other young designers, I would encourage them to consider collaborating in any way they can. As there is strength in numbers, with collaboration many challenges faced by African designers such as logistics, sourcing and production can be eradicated with collaborations across the continent.

Keep up with Haute Baso on Instagram.

Style
Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Eliana Murargy Is the Trailblazing Mozambican Fashion Brand You Should Know About

We spoke with the designer about her latest collection "Basking In the Osun River," which was the first by a Mozambican designer to show at New York Fashion Week.

Mozambican fashion designer Eliana Murargy has been on a mission to re-imagine luxury clothing in Africa since she first established her eponymous brand in 2011. Her latest collection "Basking in the Osun River," does just that. It debuted at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) last month, making her the first designer from Mozambique to showcase at the renowned fashion event.

Murargy put the myriad African influences in her designs front and center with "Basking in the Osun River"—a name which directly reference the mystical Osun River, which runs from Nigeria to the Atlantic Gulf of Guinea.

The designs themselves, are characterized by ethereal and skillfully tailored garments, designed in solid, earth-tones with feminine silhouettes, inspired by The Aje—a female Yoruba figure believed to hold fierce, cosmic powers as well as the water deity Osun. According to the designer, the collection was created with an "exclusive community of West African tailors."

Keep reading... Show less
popular
(Photo by Hirurg/Getty Images)

Rwanda Unleashes First Smartphones Made Entirely in Africa

The Mara Group has opened a new plant in Kigali to manufacture two smartphones, the Mara X and Mara Z.

The next cellphone in your pocket may be devoid of that ubiquitous "Made in China" lettering, opting instead for "Made in Rwanda," as the first-ever smartphone manufacturing plant opened in Kigali yesterday. The plant was launched by the Mara Group and will manufacture two smartphones, the Mara X and Mara Z.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
(Photo Courtesy of DIARRABLU)

Meet the Senegalese Designer Making Math Chic

Diarra Bousso uses algorithms to create designs for her line DIARRABLU.

Who knew that math and fashion could work together so seamlessly? Apparently Diarra Bousso did, the self-described "Creative Mathematician" and mastermind behind DIARRABLU. The Senegalese serial entrepreneur and multidisciplinary artist left a career of trading on Wall Street to pursue design and it paid off. She has just been awarded a coveted spot as the Designer in Residence at the San Francisco Fashion Incubator for her innovative use of equations and algorithms in her beautiful designs.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/BAFTA LA/Getty Images for BAFTA LA)

Daniel Kaluuya Is Producing a Live-Action 'Barney' Movie with Mattel

Yes, you read that correctly.

In a move that absolutely no one saw coming, Oscar-nominated actor Daniel Kaluuya is set to produce a live-action Barney movie in conjunction with Mattel Films. The Hollywood Reporter first broke the story.

Kaluuya will co-produce the film as part of his 59% production banner, which signed a first-look deal with Paramount back in May. Speaking on his involvement with the project and the impact of Barney & Friends, Kaluuya had this to say: "Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood. We're excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of 'I love you, you love me' can stand the test of time."

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.