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Fashion trends generally refer to popular style or practice, especially in clothing, footwear, accessories, make-up, body piercing, or furniture.

It is a distinctive and often habitual trend in the style in which a person dresses. Although the fashion industry developed first in Europe and America, it is now international and highly globalised, with clothing often designed in one country, manufactured in another, and sold worldwide.

Our correspondent Chipo Mapondera (CM) who is studying fashion in Italy recently had a conversation with Rumbi Matemachani (RM), who is studying for a bachelor’s degree in Footwear and Accessory Design at Polimoda in Florence. Rumbi has her own design label Rungano Rwedu that is inspired by her roots and cultural heritage:

CM: What is your fashion perspective and what inspires your style?

RM: It all starts with a passion for what you do, which in my case is shoes. However, to be inspired you have to find a topic — I have to research first, and whatever comes from that research is what inspires my direction.

I did research on where I am from — Africa — after doing the research I realised I was only teaching myself what I already knew, so I decided to go out of the box and go further away from myself. The further you go away from yourself, the more profound your design.

CM: You created your own fabric. What was the motivation behind this?

RM: After I travelled to West Africa I saw how proud the people were of their fabrics and heritage. I wanted to give that to Zimbabwe. At the time I did not feel like Zimbabwe had a g visual, cultural identity. We are greatly influenced by Western ideals but what is our traditional clothing and where is it? All these questions resulted in my print based on Great Zimbabwe, featuring brick and chevron details, incorporated with other fabrics for a modern perspective.

CM: How has living in a foreign land and travel influenced you?

RM: What travelling has taught me is that we need to have a greater appreciation of our culture from the beginning. When I initially went overseas to study, I didn’t really care about my heritage or where I was coming from and I regretted this. I became very proudly Zimbabwean, away from Zimbabwe.

However, we must grow up knowing where we come from. If we want to hold on to our traditions and culture, why are we being taught in English? Why is there not more teaching of our own history vs. international history? I now have to make up for what should have been instilled in me from the beginning and it should not be this way. That’s what’s missing.

CM: What have you learnt from your stint in Italy in terms of design?

RM: Being here has taught me a greater appreciation for clothes. Here it is not just considered as clothing, it is art.

CM: Do you think the fashion industry as a whole can be resuscitated locally?

RM: Yes. It only takes interest and investment. Our generation is going back home, and I cannot be the only person with this interest. We need the right people in fashion, people with the knowledge, exposure, and passion. Only then can we resuscitate our local fashion industry.

CM: Did you expect that there would be other Zimbabweans going to such lengths to study a subject as novel as fashion?

RM: I think we are lucky that we are able to explore the avenues that we are truly interested in and that our parents were open-minded enough to support us. It is great to have others to talk to who understand where we are coming from and where we want to go. We are teaching each other and this will help us to move forward.

CM: Why do you think local fashion is largely being over-looked in terms of investment?

RM: It makes no sense. There is not enough thought going into the potential of fashion as an industry.

(But) all things considered, Zimbabwe is coming up. The other day I got a call from a friend back home who wants me to be one of his first PR clients. This means that there is awareness because people are clearly interested and have ideas on the ground.

People are closely following new trends in fashion thanks to social media and other innovations and they seem very much up to date and are now dressing like the stars that they see on TV. Isn’t this interesting?

Yes. Take the radio for instance, the stations have huge listener-ship, companies are investing in aertising, and this is resonating with people.

Being in Italy has taught me that my eyes were closed. I was one of those people who thought that they were well-informed, but really I knew nothing. I just had my intuition but that is not enough. Now I can speak because I feel that I have overcome the challenge of reinventing and finding myself and simply gaining more knowledge.

People are making great strides though. We now have events and platforms like HIFA, which continues to be good. Zim Fashion Week is getting better every year and this represents huge progress.

We do not need to copy anyone or leave the country to go shopping. We need to create original designs, and support what is happening locally. This creates opportunities for everyone and will stimulate not only our industry but also our economy. If we have the luxury to shop outside of the country, is it not cheaper and more practical to buy what is in Zimbabwe? Is it not more worthwhile?

CM: And do you think what is on offer supports this?

RM: Street style and what people wear on a daily basis is important. It is where fashion is seen and expressed. The retailers locally need to offer more to people and change the offering every season to give people real choice and the opportunity to be more creative.

There are so many gaps in the market. Where can we go to get a basic pair of good leggings or pair of jeans? Those simple basics are hard to find locally. Those are the gaps that we need to fill.

This is how we need to think about our market, based on what the market needs across all levels. If these gaps exist, it means we have a huge market out there.

chipomapondera@gmail.com

Source : The Herald

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