After years of struggling and trying to get recognition in a country where most people think music, film and television are the only disciplines in the arts sector, a fashion council has finally been launched.
It was joy and jubilation from local fashion enthusiasts as the announcement was made on Friday at the National Arts Gallery.
Dubbed the Fashion Arts Council of Zimbabwe (FCOZ), the launch was attended by local designers, stylists, models, photographers, bloggers, diplomats and writers.
The FCOZ board members were announced as follows: Joyce Chimanye (chairperson), Paidemoyo Chideya, Karin Coric, Patience Lusengo, Tafadzwa Moyo, Tapfumaneyi Munenge, Marshall Malikula, Tafadzwa Zimoyo, Sharon Dingilesi, Langelihle Sibanda, Danayi Madondo, Eglet Mtengwa Nyabvure and Butholezwe Nyathi.
Speaking at the launch, Chimanye said it was a long journey and she is happy that the organisation was being recognised.
“We started planning back in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t fruitful,” she said.
“Then with time I met some designers who had their group and we sat down to share ideas and they welcomed it. We formed groups, created a database of relatives and related personnel who are into fashion.
“This year we then decided to take it full force and started off with a campaign “Wear Zimbabwe” every Friday where we were encouraging locals to embrace our local products.
“We consulted and engaged everyone and we are happy they have appreciated our initiative, although we still have a long way to go.
“We are currently registered as a trust and in a process of registration with NACZ and had meetings with local arts bodies who welcomed us.”
Chimanye said the organisation’s mandate is to represent the interests of fashion creatives in Zimbabwe.
“What we want is to unlock value in the sector and create a powerful, reliable, sustainable industry through the use of collaboration, programming and training,” she said.
“We also want to work with the private sector, NGOs and Government for the purpose of enabling designers to have easier access to local textiles and establishment of a yearly fashion show for Zimbabwe designers.”
Chimanye later provided the calendar of events for next year and urged corporates to support it.
“We also want to be incorporated in the national projects such as awards so that the genre is recognised,” said Chimanye.
“I am happy that even the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe have come on board to work with us.”
Guest of honour, deputy resident representative for the UNDP, Madelena Monoja, congratulated the organisers and founder members for the initiative, saying it was long overdue.
She said fashion should be considered and recognised as part of the art in the sector as it also contributed to the economy.
“The creative sector has become a powerful transformative force in the world today,” said Monoja.
“UNDP through its accelerator lab has developed a regional creative hub for development which aims to foster sustainable and inclusive economic development initiatives through strengthening of local cultural and creative industries, the empowerment of artists and cultural professionals and balanced flow of cultural goods and services in the Southern Africa sub-region.
“In this regard, UNDP is pleased to partner with the Fashion Council to provide a platform for national exposure of Zimbabwean designers and their products.”
Mia Seppo the Head of UNDP Zimbabwe is the one who initiated the collaboration between FCoZ and UNDP in July 2022.