Collective RW week of fashion in Kigali, Rwanda

As published in Forbes Woman Africa magazine DEC/JAN 2017

Kigali – The Collective Rwanda (RW) week of fashion wrapped up its inaugural fashion event following a successful press launch, several business of fashion seminars and an evening of runway shows which saw the latest collections from local designers being showcased to esteemed guests including The First Lady Jeannette Kagame and daughter Ange Kagame, alongside a fashionably stylish crowd.

In what was a highly anticipated debut, the fashion event took place at the Five star Kigali Serena Hotel hosted by Collective Rw (a creative collaboration founded by the cities local designers Sonia Mugabo, Teta Isibo, Mathew Rugamba, Linda Mukangoga and Candy Basomingera) in partnership with Journal Rw and Rwandair.

With the aim to promote ‘Made In Rwanda’ fashion and to encourage collaboration within the African Fashion industry, the week of fashion saw no shortage of contemporary, bold, and colourful collections from all the featured designers.

Against this backdrop of ‘teamwork makes the dreamwork’, here is a round up of some of the high points of this seasons shows.

Haute Baso

Having ventured into the world of fashion precisely because it gives a freedom to transform ideas into pieces that can be shared with an audience, the designers at Haute Baso presented a collection inspired by a book about Rwandas’ military history called ‘ Resilience of a Nation’. Showcasing women’s wear with simple yet contemporary silhouettes the resultant collection featured classic military print Jackets and Tee’s featuring a facial graphic imprint of President Paul Kagame mixed with stylish, easy-going ready to wear pieces.

Haute Baso’s mission is to translate the passion for art and design into a vehicle for positive change, so highlighting local artisans while promoting job creation particularly for youth and women is important. “We know that to empower a woman is to empower her community, says designer Linda Mukangoga.

Her belief in the potential to showcase Rwanda in a global market through fashion and at the same time empower artisans in the community is what drives this self described quiet, determined, passionate designer.

Sonia Mugabo

“If ever there is a market where the fashion world still has potential, it is Africa. I believe it is the right time to change the African narrative and I feel as though it is our creative responsibility to do so,’’ says designer Sonia Mugabo. Following her heart despite being advised to do fashion ‘on the side’ Sonia delivered a SS17 collection featuring bold colours mixed with delightful floral prints and layered ruffles in silhouettes inspired by a refined femininity. Best known for playing with the perfect mix of vintage and modern design, the brand creates pieces that reflect a documentation of ever-evolving experiences and style.

It represents a collection of memories, of places, people and moments brought to life by hashtag Made in Rwanda. #madeinrwanda.

Inzuki designs

Inzuki designs is best known for its specialized brand of accessories that are globally appealing, African inspired and Rwandan made. Presenting bold, mostly beaded statement pieces on the runway most suitable to a modern day contemporary style, every product sees authentic design translated into a vibrant and fashionable accessory. “I team up with numerous local artisans to transcend traditional Rwandan design and seek to customize it into contemporary design, says founder and designer Teta Isibo.

Having a setup that was unprecedented for a Kigali show, she believes the fashion week went a long way in showing the potential of ‘Made in Rwanda’. ‘We are hoping to grow this movement, get more Rwandan fashion designers on board and forge ahead together to take Rwanda fashion global” she says.

House of Tayo

Designer Matthew Rugamba took his turn showcasing his menswear collection that combines touches of bold African patterns and textures on shirts and jackets.

Key items included a new mix of african inspired print shirts, pocket squares and scarves, with slim fitting pants.

Feeling both relieved and happy after the fashion show, the designer said that he believes togetherness will create a difference in Rwanda’s fashion industry, and that being a part of this platform means there is a growing opportunity to share experiences and widen networks, whilst growing together.

The Collective RW week of fashion looks set to keep on contributing to an already growing conversation about African fashion and talent in Africa and around the world.

Leanne Tlhagoane is founder and creator of, which serves as a fashionable eye on urban Africa; you can follow @refashionafrica  Instagram|Facebook |Twitter





Image credits: Journal Rw



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