Leah offers fashion tips

Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Arts Reporter
UNITED Kingdom-based Zimbabwean fashion designer Leah Mubwandarikwa (pictured above) has challenged local designers to treat the fashion industry as a business.

“Fashion is a business which is like any other profession and it should be treated with dignity and respect,” she said this week during a mentorship programme for upcoming designers and young women.

“The reason why our local fashion industry is not growing is because we are not fully supporting each other and creating our own platforms to shine first before stepping on the international scene.

“Look at how other countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia treat the fashion industry and how it has helped to boost their tourism sector. Likewise, it is upon us as designers to take the first step and carry the flag.”

Mubwandarikwa said the fashion industry played a key role in sustaining livelihoods and promoting economic growth.

“Our young girls should see the fashion society as a business that can easily sustain livelihoods and contribute to the growth of our economy,” she said.

She recently formed the Leah African Design Foundation, which is set to benefit local women in their daily lifestyles.

Originality, Mubwandarikwa said, can also make the industry grow.

“We have creative designers in the country if not the best in Africa but what also pushes us down is the issue of identity. Why should we try to imitate other cultures, styles and origin?”

“We should be proud of ourselves and let us create garments and outfits that can sell and market our own identity.

“I have noticed that we always cry foul that the Government is not supporting us, but have you approached them with your ideas or we are just complaining without engaging them.”

The designer, who showcased at fashion shows in Nigeria, South Africa, Italy, United States and Ghana pledged to donate some sewing machines to upcoming designers from Mbare, Epworth, Mabvuku, Tafara, Mufakose and Highfield.

“I was not like this when I ventured into the fashion industry. It was not an easy road. We had so many difficulties compared to what you are witnessing now. I pledge to support you with sewing machines for a start.

“I decided to form a foundation called Leah African Design under my name and I am going to engage my Diaspora friends and look for corporate sponsorship,” she said.

Mubwandarikwa, a nurse by profession, said she was planning to launch her new collection in the United Kingdom next season.

The event drew women from across the capital.

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