Clothing retail giant Edgars Zimbabwe has turned up the heat by taking the fashion industry right back to the grassroots after they invited international designer David Tlale to endorse their local designer initiative.
BY Nicola Gibson
Tlale, an international designer, born in South Africa arrived in Zimbabwe for the first time last Thursday following a request by Edgars Zimbabwe.
On Friday, the fashion guru interacted with a number of local fashion designers who were attending a workshop convened by Edgars Zimbabwe. Tsitsi Mutendi of the Mucha Brand was a co-speaker at the workshop where she spoke about how to penetrate the Zimbabwean clothing market.
Tlale called for a change in the status quo of Zimbabwean designers, saying they should strive to make their brand known outside the borders.
“I’m crazy about all products made in South Africa and we pride ourselves in products that are made in South Africa,” Tlale said.
“We are also on a journey of undoing the mentality that everything that comes from China or Europe is right. Our journey is to say designs made from Africa are right and nobody does it like we do as Africans.”
He said Africans were good at creating unique designs, appreciating colour and knowing how to put fashion together, adding that top labels like Valentino and Versace were influenced by African style.
“Trending designs in international cat walks are influenced by an African sense of fashion. As Africans, we know how to put colour and fashion together but other countries come and copy us, gaining popularity from our work,” he said.
“Our heritage and cultures are being taken away from us and made in Europe or China and brought back to us and sold 10 times more expensive.”
He urged Africans to start believing in themselves as a continent.
“We got to change our minds and way of thinking about being patriotic. We should start believing in ourselves as a continent and start believing that our black brothers can do it better than our white sisters,” he said.
“We have to start supporting one another. Let the economy revolve around the continent because we spend the most. We go out, the way we spend money on champagne can it be the same thing with the clothing. So let’s love and appreciate young designers.”
“Along the journey we have come across obstacles and we accepted that. This is how it’s made in Africa or this is how it’s made in South Africa but it’s not. People were just careless, but now we have to change the status quo and say I can make a beautiful blouse that a woman can wear at any given time,” Tlale said.
He said most African economies were on their knees, a development that has taken a toll on the industry.
“Just because of politics and everything that goes around us, we end up diluting quality and settling for less. It’s time we change the game because if you want to be a leader you have to change the game,” he said.
Tlale showcased his spring/summer collection titled Letsoku, a Sotho word for make up for women. He said his works were inspired by African heritage and culture.
The designer made history by becoming the first South African to showcase at a standalone slot under his own name at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York. He won the South Africa Fashion Week Elle new talent competition and was chosen by the Sunday Times as the best new designer in 2003.
Over the years he has showcased in Paris and New York more than six times and his latest conquest this year was the Milan Fashion Week.
Edgars Zimbabwe marketing executive Rumbidzai Dzimba said her company was excited about the workshop as it was an eye-opener for a number of designers.