The Prince of Wales Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla yesterday had a taste of African and European fashion at the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali.
The colorful event is an opportunity to showcase local and Commonwealth fashion, accessories and interior designers.
Among local designers in the show are Haute Baso, Sonia Mugabo, Inzuki, Rwanda Clothing, Uzi Collection, Izubaa and Amike.
International brands include South Africa’s Pichulik, Kenyan designers Kiko Romeo, Amu Clothing, Jamaican designers Keneea Linton George, Nigeria’s Pepper Row and Dye Lab, Ghana’s Larry Jay and the designers from the UK, Georgia Hardinge and Maximilian Raynor.
At the CHOGM Business of Sustainable Fashion, participants and fashion influencers went beyond the glamour of fashion and designers showcasing their talent, to take on a debate aimed at finding ways of moving from the pleasure of enjoying fashion to becoming a source of livelihood, climate change resilience and as a sustainable career path for business.
Precious Moloi- Motsepe, the Chief Executive of Africa Fashion International called for a need to collaborate to realize the potential of African fashion especially considering the fact that most fashion raw materials come from Africa but the end products are either expensive or not of any benefit to the hands behind it.
“We can and must promote gender and youth empowerment in African fashion to ensure that everyone working in the sector earns a decent living and works under acceptable conditions,” Moloi- Motsepe said.
“Perhaps the most important thing of all is that we work together, that we find collaborative opportunities that ensure that we can realize the potential of African fashion,” he said.
Though Africa’s textile and fashion industry holds immense potential for economic transformation, according to some economists, continent-wide industry retail sales are worth around $1.3 trillion.
However, organizations like the United Nations Environmental Program and climate change researchers say the industry worldwide is also a key contributor to global warming, accounting for 10% of global carbon emissions.
While in the UK the fashion industry has transformed to address global challenges like climate change and environment protection through using recyclable material according to Caroline Rush, the Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, in Jamaica and the Caribbean, the situation is exactly what Moloi- Motsepe wanted to see changes.
Keneea Linton-George, the owner of Keneea Linton Boutique and representative of Jamaica fashion designer’s guild said that the Caribbean are still struggling with sustainability especially in production grappling between the choices of producing locally or outsource production to reach global markets.
“For us we are mainly looking at the policy makers for some of the policies that really set us back. So you see where we are very involved in the raw material production but in terms of value added, we don’t benefit,” Linton-George said.
While the Caribbean are grappling with production and manufacturing, Tamara Cincik, CEO Fashion Roundtable UK said that there is too much fashion production in the West and globally and this needs to be revisited and the wheel re-invented to have meaningful fashion for the consumers.
We are over producing and over wasting at the same time. We really need to readdress this and almost have to go back to basics to understand the new vision because if you just can do a bit of this and that but the whole industry needs to change,” Cincik said.