Uganda: Impressions from Kampala Fashion week

As seen on Vogue Italia

Fashion week was an entire mood: carefully crafted with a seriousness of purpose and commitment, and cleverly curated to stimulate and inspire. Neither one outdoing the other.

By nightfall, the Kampala railway station transformed into a fashion runway, the stage lit to a perfect ambience, and immediately pulling us into the heart of the cities creative and fashion scene.

The 5th edition of Kampala Fashion week (KFW) is a fascinating mix of fashion designers, some of whom have studied and worked in fashion in the UK and Italy, and emerging creatives brimming with talent and new ideas. All on a singular platform serving their latest and varied collections.

Powered by the Ugandan Fashion council, KFW takes on the important role of building foundational support to strengthen the overall design industry.

So in the opening showcase, the Skilled Expressive Entrepreneurial show (SEED) presented the ‘finale’ look of each of the 12 fashion finalists who had ‘graduated’ from the fashion training and mentorship program. A program that covers all the real-life business related and creative considerations in completing a full fashion collection.

What really left an impression is the quality of creative thinking and interpretation-from concept idea to reality- and the common thread of re-use, re-purpose and re-cycle-taking action on the idea of sustainability.

Even extending over into the main designer showcases, the brand taking on the namesake of the designers mother who was also a seamstress, Catherine & Sons, showed an entire woman’s wear collection made from recycled linen and denim. The daytime looks color blocked effortlessly with extraordinary head pieces by Cecily Ophelia.

But in their first menswear collection it was a case of taking a more classic approach, using wax prints, playing only with pocket details and in some instances again sensibly using recycled materials.

A young brand that stood out on the runway for its bold colours and festival-inspired looks was a cross border collaboration between Nina Mire (Uganda) and Ekete (Nigeria). Meeting on social media, the duo have converted the power of social media into real life friendship and  business opportunity. Ekete’s small handcrafted raffia and wicker cane bags were a perfect natural accessory for Mire’s handmade boho style collection.

It is very obvious from the fashion showcased that this is not just another fashion event.

It’s a fashion platform to enhance cultural and creative talent. Evidenced in collections from Eguana Kampala that took inspiration from African royalty and regality to Gloria Wavamunno’s ‘dress down but level up’ chic modern day basics, that exude comfort, strength and power all at the same time. And then to IGC Fashion who used a combination of African print and natural textures, distorting shapes and structure for a more conceptual, avant-garde aesthetic.

One can hardly escape the feeling that out-of-the-ordinary is encouraged in all of the moving parts that make up Kampala fashion week. Along with excellence. And drive. The drive to keep pushing this idea that fashion can be a sustainable business in Africa.

I hope you allow your eye to travel and enjoy the fashionable images from Kampala, Uganda.



Compiled by @leannetrcy Founder of @refashionafrica

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