Kigali. A city that undoubtedly made the transition from a homely town to a dynamic urban city just a few years prior. Part of the indications that Rwanda continues to register improvements is via the growth of their fashion industry; in particular Kigali Fashion Week (KFW). The sixth edition of KFW 2016, which wrapped up on June 24th, is used as a platform for designers of couture and finely tailored garments to showcase their creations and also to strengthen relationships with local and international designers.
The Fashion Week isn’t limited to Rwandese designers alone, as it looks to promote entrepreneurship and culture with other countries. Therefore, this year’s edition featured 12 countries that were a mix of African and international designers. According to the CEO of KFW, John Bunyeshuri, some of the designers that showcased their creations include Sheenah Frida (Kenya), Jamil Waljia (Kenya), Winnie Godi (South Sudan), An Buermans (Belgium), and Daniel Ting Chong (South Africa) to mention a few. Here are three lessons Kenya can learn from the KFW.They have a Fashion Council
With the support of the Commonwealth Fashion Council (CFC), Kenya Airways, KLM and the British High Commission in Rwanda, they were able to launch the Rwanda Fashion Council on 15th July 2015. The CFC was developed with the principle objective to “unite Commonwealth and international Fashion industries under one fashion association to demonstrate the importance of the industry to humanity, by advocating Fashion education, development, trade and youth and gender empowerment.”
In partnership with Kigali Fashion Week, CFC with it’s over 20 council members, created a space where council members can share expertise and knowledge on ways to create a transparent council that is regional. And according to the Right Hon Joseph Habineza, Minister for Sports and Culture, CFC has significantly contributed to encouraging greater coordination in Rwanda’s emerging Fashion Industry.
Ease of Business in Rwanda
It’s been over two decades since the genocide and Rwanda has grown into a stable civil society. In fact, it was voted by the Commonwealth Exchange (CX) as one of the best nations within Africa ‘to do business’. With an exemplary track record over the recent years, it has drawn attention from international investors and observers alike. In 2013, the World Bank “Doing Business” Report ranked Rwanda 52nd out of 185 countries that create conducive environment’s for business. To put this into perspective, in the East African community, it is the best performing country while in the Sub-Saharan Africa it ranked as the third easiest place to do business.
This is behind Mauritius that comes in at first place and 19th place globally and South Africa, which comes in second while ranks 30th globally. This is because of key issues such as transparency in business registration which makes it easier to get the right kind of assistance to set up your fashion brand. The country welcomes and thrives off of new business ideas and strong leadership skills. Further encouragement for engaging in fashion businesses in Rwanda is how over the past four years, fashion designers have had the opportunity to showcase small to medium size collections that actually have orders.
They learn from the best in the field
Instead of re-inventing the wheel, sometimes it best to learn how to make the existing one instead. LDJ Productions, the same company that runs New York Fashion Week, has previously given KFW technical support and training. In an interview with the Guardian U.S, LDJ chief Laurie DeJong – who has also worked on Miami, Mumbai, Toronto, and Los Angeles Fashion Weeks – expressed that, “”It’s not about giving money, for us, it’s about giving our time and expertise…. [We] believe Rwanda has the potential for a strong fashion industry.”
Below are some of the looks that were featured this past weekend at KFW 2016: