Recently social media went crazy about invites to the event The PiChani, a fashion and lifestyle platform, which was held in Bulawayo. Standard Style reporter Sharon Sibindi (SS) had a chat with Global Citizen, Forbes 30 under 30, Mandela Washington fellow, media practitioner and curator of The PiChani, Gilmore Tee (GT) (pictured right), who said The PiChani would run throughout the year, with workshops, masterclasses and pop-ups lined up.
the style interview:with Sharon Sibindi
Below are excerpts from the interview.
SS: What is The PiChani?
GT: The PiChani is an exclusive Pan-African fashion and lifestyle platform. It has three panels to it — skills exchange, where we facilitate workshops allowing fashion people to gain new knowledge and skills; showcase, where we offer a platform for fashion designers and creatives to showcase their products; and lastly, product selling/business of fashion, where we aim to push the business side by presenting a platform to sell or generate income through the platform and sustain themselves. One last touch of The PiChani is that it is a cross-pollination platform for the creative industry, giving people from diverse artistic backgrounds a network and dialogue.
SS: What is the idea behind The PiChani?
GT: For many years, I have had the opportunity to produce fashion shows for different platforms within Zimbabwe and work immensely in the fashion industry. I would organise some of the most outstanding fashion shows and also have sold-out shows. But I was always left empty after all the successful events, press coverage and people talking about the shows. I always had the question, And then what? lingering. So, I stopped producing fashion shows and decided to travel the world, seeing how others manage their fashion platforms as a business. It’s been three years plus since I haven’t curated anything to do with fashion.
those years were for soul-searching and also learning from others. The PiChani was then birthed as a platform for skills exchange (thus helping us attain information and knowledge from those that have lived before us), showcasing and the business of fashion. I have seen other platforms across the continent and globe working, so I adopted some of their approaches into The PiChani.
SS: Last year you held the pre-launch and another edition this year, tell us a little bit more.
GT: Last year I wasn’t fully ready to prelaunch The PiChani. However, our friends from Food Lovers Market were celebrating their birthday and we partnered with them and Wood Affairs to do a picnic which I then thought would let me curate and pre-empt the idea. This year was a little bit different in the sense that it was the year we were supposed to do an inaugural event for The PiChani, but due to Covid-19, everything changed. However, I thought why not do a reunion of the event, inviting mostly those that were there last year and a few additional people in giving an inside take of some of the things we would be doing the following year. Through our partnership with the incredible team at Sabela Studio, Thandoz Events, Imagery Reflected, Charleson Atelier and Shepherd Svosve, we managed to host an exclusive event which featured a fashion exhibition by Sozinio and Leverange and art works from the National Gallery in Bulawayo. We even had performances from MUSE, Msiz’Kay, uLenni okaNdlovu and ASAPH.
SS:Looking at the bigger picture, what are the key activities done during The PiChani?
GT: The PiChani is going to be running throughout the year, with workshops lined up, masterclasses, pop-ups and an end-of-year one- or two-day event filled with fashion and art. We also plan to launch our online store where we will stock a select number of designers to sell their products throughout the year.
SS: Social media went crazy about invites to the event. What would you say as the curator of The PiChani?
GT: Invited guests were those that had attended last year’s event and a few other select people who were added this year, hence it was called PiChani – The Reunion. The event is curated to the extent of whom do we invite, what is it that they are adding to the overall vision and how well do they fit in, in what we are trying to achieve. Conversely, it would have been nice to have everyone invited, but we need to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions and not be the vehicle of spreading the virus. Invited guests were well scrutinised and selected from vast backgrounds of influence, and I am sure as we grow, we shall extend invitations to as many people as possible.
SS: What kind of audience does the platform attract and who attended this year?
GT: The platform attracts young achievers, entrepreneurs, movers and shakers that want to dress up and enjoy life, at the same time networking with fellows who will add value to what they are already doing. Someone said it is a “soft life” event, I actually find that funny, but well, if the shoe, fits wear it. This year we had actress Charmaine Mudau, Butholezwe Nyathi, ASAPH, Praise Worth, the Caligraph Duo, Mimmie Tarukwana, Mbo Mahocs, MUSE, Msiz’Kay, Novuyo Seagirl, Ricky Kamota, Mawiza and many more respected guests.
SS:What is the timing, is this a once-off event?
GT: The actual dress-up event is held once a year. This is to allow everyone to have time to go to their local designers and get an outfit made. However, during the year as from next year, we plan to build up events that result in fireworks installations and exhibitions during the one- or two-day event towards the last quarter of the year. The grand event should always be something people anticipate, the beauty about it all is that you never know what to expect, it’s always a big surprise at the end of it all. I cannot wait to unfold it all in these coming years.