By Ngoni Shumba
African fashion is worth an estimated US$30 billion – and even though it may be struggling to be firmly established on the global fashion map things are changing at home.
Almost everyone in Zimbabwe owns or would love to have African inspired clothes.
“African fashion is the in thing. Everyone appreciates it. People realise that it’s very easy to incorporate it into one’s daily life,” Patricia Denga a self-taught African fashion designer says.
It is also being aided by locals’ appreciation of conservative apparel, she opines.
“It is near impossible to be adjudged to have dressed indecently when you’re wearing African fashion,” said Denga who runs P’s Exclusive Boutique at shop 17 First Mutual Centre along Herbert Chitepo street in Mutare.
She said African fabric is also a hit because it is very easy to match – keeping fashion police at bay.
“The fabric often has so many colours and it’s very easy to match with shoes, belts, handbags, purses and jewellery among many other accessories, so most women find it very convenient.”
Denga said the current economic crunch did not appear to be deterring people from yearning to look good.
“People do not seem to be feeling the pinch because of the growing culture that regardless of one’s social standing they would still want to look their best and African fabric seems to guarantee them that.”
She said the various prints tell various stories and proverbs which is a major inspiration to those who want an African ethic look.
Denga started off her journey by buying readymade clothes with plain colours which she would then decorate with African print.
Soon, people started suggesting and asking her to produce similar pieces for them inspiring her to set up a dedicated stand for African fashion at a flea market before business grew to allow her to start renting a shop in Mutare’s CBD.
She now runs perhaps the only exclusively African fashion shop in the eastern border city.
The shop has a variety of modern African inspired fashion attire – in all colors and for all seasons. From women ranging from the slim to plus size and pregnant women to men’s ware – with the option of having something made to your specifications.
She also has something for men – African inspired shirts, trousers and head to toe gear.
Her fabric is from across the continent from Mali, DRC, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Lesotho and South Africa among others.
“The good thing about African fashion is that if you’re creative enough you can tell your own story with the kind of prints and designs you chose,” Denga who continues to create her own stories with her dressing says.