By Atwiine Lyn
Lights, cameras, fabulosity! When I think about fashion in Uganda, those are the aspects that come to mind. For a long time, I have looked up to personalities like Sylvia Owori, Santa Anzo, the late Keturah Kamugasa, and Gloria Wavamunno. When it comes to solidifying the fashion industry in Uganda, these four names cannot be missed. The fact that they are not even that old should tell you how young the industry is. Being young is no problem though because as soon as it took off it has been growing exponentially.
From the influx of social media influencers, models, photographers, makeup artists, stylists, and designers, there is no stopping the machine that is fashion. We have contenders who are not afraid to compete on a worldwide basis for recognition. I’m talking of names like Kaijuka Abbas of Kai’s Divo Collection, the Abryanz empire, and Joram Model Management, the movers and shakers of the industry have taken what the pioneers started and ran with it in the most beautiful ways!
We have girls walking down the runways in Milan, Paris, and New York that got their start in Uganda. We have people from all over the world flying in to be part of moments like the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards and Kampala Fashion Week. Designers are winning continental awards for their excellent work. The world is watching, and while we still have a long way to go, Uganda is still the pearl, an underdog in comparison to hubs like Nigeria or South Africa, but packing a heavy enough punch to be felt!
With social media platforms like Instagram and youtube offering creatives an option to create the life of their artistic dreams, we constantly have new creatives breaking out and showing the world what they’ve got. From blogs like Satisfashion UG to TV shows like the NTV Style Project and more fashion columns in our daily papers, there are endless opportunities for these creatives to be recognised and make what some may see as a hobby into viable careers where all eyes are on them.
I cannot talk about the progression of the fashion industry without mentioning the role music has played in it all. Musicians, while growing at their own volatile pace have proven to be perfect collaborators with the fashion industry.
Giving designers, stylists, makeup artists, and photographers regular gigs to not only pay the bills but also get their names out there. This has worked to only grow the industry in such a symbiotic way, so when Sheebah or Spice Diana or Apass are breaking global barriers, the people who dress them or are part of their glam squads subsequently elevate as well.
Fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry of which Uganda is gladly working to take a slice. While there are other issues plaguing the industry like the second-hand clothing that is dumped here in tonnes every day, the industry still finds a way to organically grow despite that pushback. There is so much to look forward to in Uganda because from where I can see, the only way is up!
Atwiine Lyn is a writer and editor for Satisfashion UG, and when she isn’t telling fashion stories, she is advocating for full acceptance of natural hair on her blog 4c Mami which recently expanded to include a YouTube page of the same name.