PART 2: Who's Winning the Race Between Fashion Show Organizers in Rwanda? PART 2: Who's Winning the Race Between Fashion Show Organizers in Rwanda?

In PART 1, our journalist is having an interview with the person who was renamed XZ due to his religion. He is stalking about his experience in the fashion industry in Rwanda. In this PART 2 we will continue his inputs and ideas from his experience by working with Rwanda's leading fashion events which include;  Kigali Fashion Week,  Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show CollectiveRw/Rwanda Fashion Week,  Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kigali, Rwanda Modesty Fashion Show and many others.

"Look at the Kigali Cultural Village initiative to support local fashion designers to showcase, exhibit, and sell their Products. Many local fashion designers have been asking themselves what were criteria used to select those who already have shops there and who selected them. Bro, that is the gate away of most of the tourists who visit Kigali. That should be a space for competition for those who create unique and quality designs" said XZ

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PHOTO: Haute Baso shop at Kigali Cultural Village

According to some comments from Part 1, it is clear that there is a gap in collaboration between local fashion designers as well as fashion houses. Our journalist asked more questions to the person XZ and other local fashion designers to understand why a gap in the collaboration between stakeholders in the fashion industry in Rwanda. However, some of the local fashion designers interviewed didn't want to talk about this matter while others didn't want to share their views publicly due to their privacy '" according to them" which the person XZ sees as a scary situation among fashion designers to refuse to share information as Rwanda's fashion industry is facing challenges.

"Some local fashion designers just entered this career but don't have any information about the development of the fashion industry in Rwanda. It is hard for them to talk about some issues but those who know what can be done and they kept quiet. It is so scary. We should blame them" said XZ

According to Mrs. Karen Uwera, President of the Rwanda Designers Association and CEO & founder of Karssh Collection. There is no go zone when you want to build a strong fashion industry. She believes that local fashion designers should have a common ground in understanding what can be done which is one-way

"To talk about those issues and find solutions for our textiles and fashion economy and sustainable fashion industry. We all need to come together and this will make a change" said Uwera in February this year, during a discussion organized by the RCFS in partnership with other fashion entrepreneurs.

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PHOTO: Mrs. Karen Uwera, President of the Rwanda Designers Association and CEO & founder of Karssh Collection


Looking back to KCV (camp-Kigali). RCFS has the information that those fashion designers who have shops at KCV pay some amount to exhibit there.

  • Why do you think there is a problem in selecting those who have shops there already?

"Like I said before, I am so sorry, I don't know why I kept talking to the CollectiveRw/Rwanda Fashion Week as if they are the best fashion designers we have. But yes, let me be clear here. Rwanda is a small country and no secret in the entertainment industry especially in Kigali because our capital city which holds and hosts these big fashion events is also small. It is easy to know what happened last night in someone's event.

What we all know is that those tents in KCV were built by the government under the Rwanda Development Board-RDB. They are controlled and managed by the Rwanda Convention Bureau -RCB and Kigali City as well as the University of Rwanda. It used to be called Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) because that land belonged to them. 

I don't really know who chose but I believe the RDB is the first institution to select those fashion designers or the RDB gave someone else responsibilities to select who to exhibit at KCV and he or she decided who to bring on board where most of the CollectiveRw members are among to have shops there, maybe because they are able to pay. I don't know maybe because they have unique and quality designs. I doubt about this.

If you want examples go there and check yourself or go to the visit Rwanda's website. You will also see those examples you want me to tell you. Thiers shops are all there as well" said XZ

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PHOTO: Shops Inside the Kigali Cultural Village


In part 1 you mentioned other groups of local fashion designers and you also said that there are many public institutions that support fashion designers which you see as wasting energy that would support common industry instead of groups by groups

  • Can you explain more about this?

"Yes, there are groups but not that many, We have the Rwanda Fashion Designers Association headed by Karen Uwera and this group is most supported by the Private Sector Federation (PSF). We have Berwa Rwanda Federation (Fashion &Beauty), headed by Mrs. Dukuzumuremyi Marie Chantal. This used to be supported by the Rwanda Academy of Langue and Culture (RALC) which changed to Rwanda Heritage Academy and I am not sure if they are still supporting them because they've been very quiet in the past 2 years. We have another group that is not known yet that had been supported by the Imbuto Foundation through the ArtsRwanda-Ubuhanzi Initiative where more than 100 upcoming fashion designers attended this competition and information, I have is that about 20 were selected. where are they? I don't know.  Then, we have the CollectiveRw which is supported by the RDB and Visit Rwanda Campaign.

To me, this is a waste of energy in many institutions. I understand everyone wants to support the arts and creativity industry but it is kind of confusing. And it is creating miscommunication among local fashion designers. Now, we don't know which brand belongs to who and who. There is too much copy and paste. Everyone wants to design Umugongo. Do you know why? Because there is no management of local fashion designers. They are all running to make money as much as they can but they are not building sustainable fashion. We need something like the Rwanda Fashion Council to head all activities of fashion and even promote all fashion entrepreneurs. This is where the public institutions will pass their support and this council will create policies for the fashion industry in general" said XZ

To understand the KCV situation, our journalist interviewed other local fashion designers


You are the first person to open a fashion house in Kigali "the Inkanda House". You have been attending different fashion events in Rwanda and many exhibitions.

  • Why are you not among those who opened the shops at KCV?

"It is true that I am not among those local fashion designers who are exhibiting at KCV and thank you for asking these questions because even other local fashion designers still asking themselves what happened to select those ones and leave others behind. I live in Kigali and that is where my shops is located as well.

our shop is open from Monday to Friday; I never saw anyone coming to invite me or call us to exhibit there. To be honest we are struggling but some other people don't see it. We should all have the same opportunity to meet those higher guests and tourists who come to KCV regularly. The answer is I never got a chance to even try and then I fail, maybe to pay the rent if that is what most required to exhibit at KCV" said Patrick Muhire CEO and founder of Inkanda House.


PHOTO: Patrick Muhire CEO and founder of Inkanda House.

  • How do you see that platform of the KCV by the way?

"It is hard to tell if that platform is providing more income to these fashion designers who already have shops there than us who don't. On one hand, they are making money because when you receive a guest from the RDB it is unlikely for that guest to go without purchasing something. They are making money and good connections, we all know as we can see some of them style supper stars from all over the world.

But on the other hand, I can also say that is a failing initiative, according to me. Look, can you imagine, we have more than 50 local fashion designers and you are selecting 8 to 10 of them. Those who are selected are given opportunities those who are not are watching and not sleeping and they are not happy with that act of injustice.

Whoever did it, It was wrong to do it secretly. Maybe they thought other local fashion designers would just watch and keep quiet. Yes, we are quiet about that but as we have been here more than 13 years. We can't hide the truth on how we see things and the industry in general" said Patrick Muhire CEO and founder of Inkanda House.

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PHOTO: Made by Inkanda House

Our journalist asked Patrick Muhire to provide some examples that show how some designers are on the front page than others in some institutions that support the arts and relatives industry. 

  • Can you share some examples that show fashion lovers how unfair the fashion industry in Rwanda is?

"I don't need to go far in the past events or exhibitions organized by who and invited by whom. Look just, last year during the CHOGM2022. I was almost going to cry because of the list of our local fashion designers who presented us in front of the whole world. It looked like we had no fashion designers. Go back through their pictures. You will tell me your outputs.

How come you select fashion designers to present the country at a high event like that and you ignore some famous and well-established fashion designers?
I talked to some guests and other people who attended that fashion show, but many were just laughing at us. Some told me that some of us fashion designers call ourselves professionals. During CHOGM 2022 our professionalism was seen and we all saw what that fashion show looked like on our local fashion designers who showcased.

I don't really blame the CollectiveRw /Rwanda Fashion Week because they are not the ones who gave themselves all of those opportunities. I just have a message to some institutions in charge of arts and creatives especially those who have the initiative to support the growing fashion sector.

Bring local fashion designers together and share available opportunities with all established and upcoming fashion designers. This will create a good competition where designers will work as a team not as enemies or when I am done posting my new collection someone jump there and copy my creation and my idea. We have to be satisfied by our own brands, not other people's brands. we have to be honest fashion designers. The government is the one to help us cross this very deeper ditch" said Muhire 

52169610278 d928d39456 cPHOTO: Made by UZI Collection Rwanda Fashion Week 2022 during the CHOGM2022 in Kigali

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PHOTO: Made by Sonia Mugabo Rwanda Fashion Week 2022 during the CHOGM2022 in Kigali


You have mentioned the designers' association headed by Karen Uwera

  • Why do you think Karen as the president is not doing something to unite local fashion designers?

"Leave Karen alone, according to me. I know her well. She is a fashion designer but also Karen is a politician, She worked with PSF, she knows the CollectiveRw well, and she saw them looking at the sun in the fashion industry. She knows the RDB and they know her. I think she doesn't want to break a calabash to disturb her business but I know she knows the situation 100%. But she can't do anything" said XZ

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PHOTO: Made by Karssh Collection 


Some fashion lovers have been saying that the Kigali Fashion Week should have been engaged with the RDB to help that brand shine like the CollectiveRw/ Rwanda Fashion Week.

  • Why do you think the Kigali Fashion Week decided to keep quiet?

"What else they can do? Nothing, Like I said Mr. John Bunyeshuli is the kind of person who also says all the truth. I remember many times me and him used to go to the RDB and met many officials there, but after we left, they all laughed at us. They don't call him to share information about the upcoming events. I don't see Kigali Fashion Week dominating the CollectiveRw/Rwanda Fashion Week. I heard that they moved to Kampala but that just turning around the cooking spoon. I am not sure if we will see any other event from them in the near future but it's what it's. It makes me so sad to see the industry breaking apart" said XZ

aba banyamideli berekanye imyambaro yo hakurya y amazi ariko yifitemo ishusho ya kinyafurika 44ff0

PHOTO: Kigali Fashion Week 2017, at Serena Hotel


  • What do you think is the future of the fashion events in Rwanda?

"I don't see their future now but I can say the CollectiveRw/ Rwanda Fashion Week will continue to receive all opportunities from these well-known government institutions and other local fashion designers will remain toasted. That's all I can say. Again, this is according to me. Don't put words in my mouth" said XZ


We have talked with some local fashion designers about the Kwita Izina ceremony and most said it's not for them. And some said that they have no information about side events like fashion shows. 

" As of now, I don't have any information from the RDB-Rwanda Development Board about side events like mini fashion shows or exhibitions. I am still waiting like others, Let me say! Touch of Rwanda Fashion Designs is always open and we have good offers for the guests. To me Kwita Izina is our ceremony" said Shema Charlly fashion designer, CEO & Founder of Touch Rwanda fashion design 


PHOTO: Shema Charlly fashion designer, CEO & Founder of Touch Rwanda Fashion Design 

  • Do you think the CollectiveRw/Rwanda Fashion Week is organizing aside events in secret?

"To be honest I won't be surprised to hear their events. Of course, other fashion designers have no idea of what's coming up especially when it's involving the RDB. It's automatically to the CollectiveRw to organize side fashion events during Kwita Izina. I just want to tell the CollectiveRw to think twice not be selfish all the time. They can still sell even though they invite other local fashion designers if they really agree that their creations are unique and high-quality. What are they afraid of? They call themselves professionals. They should then allow upcoming designers to showcase in their events and exhibitions" said XZ

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PHOTO: CollectiveRw Market place during the CHOGM2022


You mentioned that CollectiveRw doesn't involve other local fashion designers but the comments from the head of the CollectiveRw told the RCFS's media that they have been working with the local fashion designers. And even shared an example of the 2016 Fashion Night Out.

  • What's your answer to this?

"Aaaaaa!! Which year? I know, there used to be some surprise exhibitions and they wanted to get more visibility in that case they used to invite designers but I think it was probably in 2016 and I don't remember them sharing their platforms with others since then. I told you what happened in CHOGM 2022, we saw the same names from the same group. I saw a few local fashion designers like Karen and models like Franco Kabano in that fashion show. But like I said CollectiveRw had no choice but to avoid collaborating during the CHOGM 2022. That was a global event" said XZ

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           PHOTO: Member of the CollectiveRw/Rwanda Fashion Week 2022, Mr. Matthew Rugamba CEO & founder of the House of Tayo was explaining to His Majesty King Charles III about what was happening during the RFW2022 - CHOGM2022


  • Who do you think can unite local fashion designers and fashion entrepreneurs?

"I read a story from one of the fashion lovers published at saying that His E. Paul Kagame is the one to resolve this issue. I don't agree, his family has been supporting local fashion designers and we all know. They buy made in Rwanda and they wear it well. So don't ask them to re-support. I would say that we need people to be real Rwandaise, our cultural values allow us to share good and bad. There's a saying that without selfishness a small rabbit skin can help more than one person. The RDB needs to be fair to all local fashion designers as a government institution. Please the RDB supports all local fashion designers and all local artists" said XZ


To conclude: 

  • What do think is the future of Miss Rwanda contestant?

"I have no idea. Again, the Miss Rwanda contestant is bigger now as we can see. Prince Kid already has a license from Miss World. According to the information I have many people have wanted to take it including the Kigali Fashion Week which failed in 2016 - 2017, I guess. Prince Kid is the one to put the last dot, his the man behind this and we all know his achievements besides issues that arose which I still don't understand" said XZ

277229478 537547874386979 4017123304246253509 nPHOTO: Crowned Miss Rwanda 2022, Divine Nshuti Muheto,

  • What do you think about the Rwanda Fashion Models Union?

"Those young men who are the heads of that union are still thinking they are magical and they think they can do impossible. I heard that most of the known modeling agencies are not in that union. Since Franco's resignation, the Union lost its vision. To me, I don't see them impacting the fashion industry much. Unless they have good and visionary leaders. Its boss has a modeling agency and this has been the main issue because some people (Leaders of Modeling agencies in Kigali) say that he is not fair to all modeling agencies. Again, I don't know how to fix it. I am not a model. Models are still poor no money and no projects. Let's hope things will be well as we all see the same direction of our future fashion industry in our country" said XZ

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 PHOTO: Models on the runway at the Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show  2015 at the Mille Collines Hotels, in Kigali

 RCFS's Media 


Read 477 times Last modified on Friday, 25 August 2023 01:25
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