Asked & Answered: Mpho Kuaho

13 Oct

First in a series of QnA’s called Asked & Answered. It is not edited it is “live”.

Mpho Kuaho On Colour in the Desert Fashion Week and Fashion in Botswana

What was identified in the Botswana market that prompted the need for a Fashion Week initiative? Lots of talent that was hidden under a rock and a lot of investment and economic growth potential through clothing and textile.

In your opinion what took so long for there to be such an initiative in the local market? The right minds who could put it into action. I’m pretty sure many fashion loving Batswana have had this idea fly by but never had the courage to put it into action.

When people say “fashion Industry” in Botswana what are they referring to exactly? People??? What people… as a fashion designer and business woman, when I talk about the fashion industry I mean your marginalised seamstress to the retailer through your consumers as well as everybody else who makes it possible for one person to be a shirt that you are wearing right.

What are some of the aspects of this industry that have already been put into practice in the country? It would have to be retailing. This is where most of the stakeholders in fashion are involved.

Are there any facts and figures available you are able to quote that can give an indication of the contribution of the fashion milieu to trade and industry in Botswana? It’s been 10 years and the government has been sending students to study fashion and related course and now there are hundreds of these graduates who are loitering around and CDFW (Colour in The Desert Fashion Week) is that one platform to encourage and empower them to use their skills and give back to the community and of course the government. Fashion is not all about stilettos and micro mini skirts; it is a business. We talk about fashion, clothing and textile and manufacturing all wrapped up in one.

What are some of the structures in Botswana that support the local fashion businesses? Off the top of my head. It would have to be your CEDA, BEMA, BEDIA, Ministry of Trade Industry, Arts and Culture, Youth Department.

Is there a fashion regulating authority and if not is there a need for one in the country? There isn’t but it’s a work in progress that’s why we are working with the masters of the fashion industry like Jan Malan.

What was the purpose of staging the Colour in the Desert Fashion Week? Education, empowerment, economic contribution, mainly to create awareness about the existence of the fashion industry Botswana through my vast experience and a better understanding of what the industry is all about. And my international relationships and networks that I’ve built over the years of being in this industry have helped CDFW to be what it is and what it was about. And through my understanding, a fashion week is all about the designers and those involved in the creative industry to celebrate their talents, exchange skills and network with the big fish of the sea. And the crowd is just the cherry on top.

What tangible benefits can the designers that showed at the fashion week look forward to as a direct result of participating? Without going any further, from the 6 that showcased at the fashion week, 3 have been invited to Angola for Fashion Business Angola taking place next week.

Was there a general theme or trend for the event at this year’s showing? It was advocacy for the development of the fashion, clothing and textile industry.

How will the buying public be able to acquire some of the designs from the show? The colour In the Desert Fashion Week Facebook group has all the designers’ contacts.

What were some of the challenges of staging the event, and how will these be remedied in future? FUNDING and support from private organizations.

There were a set of workshops that occurred in tandem with the fashion week, what was the content of the workshops and why was it relevant to the local fashion climate? As I had mentioned before, we were all about education and empowering…These workshops included amongst other entrepreneurship and developmental skills to help designers and fashion aspirants build and grow their businesses. Fashion is business and it is broad with so many carriers that young fashion designers in the industry would like to explore.

Which retailers or fashion buyers made an appearance at the event and what were their impressions of the fashion? This is a new concept that was launched for the first time and yet to be marketed through the right channels and those who matter. Rome was not built in a day and even big ones that you maybe comparing Colour in the Desert to started somewhere. When New York Fashion Week started it was not what it is today.

What similarities does the Botswana fashion milieu have with the countries which featured at Colour in the Desert Fashion week, eg Egypt, South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya? We all have a passion for fashion and a dream. We all have similar challenges and we are all involved in this movement of growing the fashion industry in Africa. We [are] all African fashion designers with different experiences, remember talent is not based on any particular geographical location.

What is next for Colour in the Desert? This is just the beginning for Colour in the Desert, what is in our calendar now is that we are taking [the] best designers to participate in Angola Fashion Business invited and recognised by the biggest fashion producer Jan Malan who was shocked by the talent that he experienced in Botswana, not only the designers, he is also interested [in] working with some models he scouted during his working period with Colour in the Desert.

The next fashion week after Angola Fashion Business is Swahili Fashion Week taking place in November where Colour in the Desert has been invited to showcase and will be taking some models and designers to exhibit the talent that Batswana have. It is amazing how we caught the relevant eyes of the right people in this industry.

Pics – Mikey S

One Response to “Asked & Answered: Mpho Kuaho”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jophes 09267 by Mpho Kuaho | Soul Canvas - January 28, 2012

    […] read an interview she did about the The color in the desert fashion week that she organised here and a few pics of her collection from last years Gaborone Fashion night […]

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