Style

5 Designers Putting Zambian Fashion on the Map

Meet the young designers shaking up the Zambian fashion industry.

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.

Debbie Chu

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.

Courtesy of Debbie Chu.

Courtesy of Debbie Chu.

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.

Esnoko by Chiza S/S 2016

Esnoko by Chiza S/S 2016

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.

Courtesy of Mangishi Doll.

Courtesy of Mangishi Doll.

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.”

Courtesy of ChizO Designs by Chisoma Lombe.

Courtesy of ChizO Designs by Chisoma Lombe.

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.

Sekayi and Tukiya Fundafunda for a Summer 15/16 shoot of Kamanga Wear pieces, styled by MaFashio and shot by Fortress Media Photography.

Sekayi and Tukiya Fundafunda for a Summer 15/16 shoot of Kamanga Wear pieces, styled by MaFashio and shot by Fortress Media Photography.

Interview
Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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