Top 10 Fashion Designers From Rwanda
Kigali Fashion Week is an annual fashion event that takes place twice a year. It is a platform that promotes Rwandan creative industry in fashion and modelling; the event attracts international attention with both designers and models from across the globe. Kigali fashion week was appointed as a founder member on the commonwealth fashion council in London.
This platform will open up a wider door for Rwandan fashion industry in over 53 countries in the commonwealth. Kigali fashion week in partnership with Rwanda cultural fashion show have created the first ever Rwanda fashion council a regulatory body that will manage and promote the image of fashion industry in Rwanda and the region as a whole.
Most Influential Fashion Designer In Rwanda
1. Moses Turahirwa
Moshions is an elegant culturally inspired brand with a distinctive world-class taste. Since 2015, the award-winning brand has created clothing that celebrates Rwanda’s eclectic culture by a fusion of ancient motifs with contemporary designs.
Founded by model turned designer Moses Turahirwa in 2011, Moshions has gained prominence as a bespoke tailoring brand. His unique label is inspired by contrasting elements such as modernity and ancestry, anarchy and severity, and spectacle and depth.
His clothing, often minimalistic and with small flourishes of traditional Rwandan influence, is known to be of excellent quality, creative, and easy to wear. He recently showed his designs at the CollectiveRw fashion show in Kigali, as well as across the region and Nigeria. Moshions is simple, elegant, and only getting better with time.
2. Linda Mukangoga
Haute Baso is an ethical fashion brand for the modern individual looking for thoughtful, simple and functional designs. We are centered around the belief that “two heads are better than one” using fashion as vehicle for positive change towards the empowerment of women and youth who are integral to our value chain while contributing to preservation of culture in Rwanda.
Founded by Linda Mukangoga, Haute Baso produces some of Rwanda’s most creative, colorful, and innovative clothing and accessories. As the creative director, Mukangoga started Hatue Baso upon realizing there were few options for Rwanda-made gifts and apparel. Passionate about collaborating with fellow designers and individuals in the creative sector, Haute Baso is a ready-to-wear lifestyle brand, designing contemporary pieces with subtle Rwandan accents.
Their quality and craftsmanship is not limited to just their designs, as they also invest in young women throughout Rwanda by way of vocational training, entrepreneurial mentorship, and employment. Haute Baso’s minimal yet fashion-forward style is becoming known around the world, and Mukangoga’s lines have appeared recently at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg.
Additionally, Haute Baso has also been featured in Vogue, Forbes, Vanity Fair, CNBC Africa, CNN, and many other publications. Keep an eye on their website for an e-commerce shop to come that will service North America and Europe.
3. Matthew Rugamba
House of Tayo was created out of the desire to find a unique way through which to showcase African sophistication, style and flavor through contemporary, locally-made clothing and accessories. With style influences ranging from the Motown era to traditional British tailoring, House of Tayo seeks to combine elegance and class with a strong sense of African heritage and iconography.
Matthew Rugamba is the founder and creative director of House of Tayo, with a signature style described as ‘Afrodandy,’ has steadily gained prominence across Rwanda. Established in 2011 by Matthew Rugamba, House of Tayo is known for their colorful bow ties, shirts, and custom suits. Rugamba, as one of Rwanda’s early fashion designers and co-founder of CollectiveRw, has been dedicated to building up the fashion community, changing Rwanda’s fashion narrative, and collaborating with like minded brands.
Rugamba creates iconic designs inspired by the Motown era, traditional British tailoring, and his own African heritage. In using design as a tool to tell stories about his home country of Rwanda, he paints a richly diverse, fantastical, fast-paced, and sophisticated picture of Rwanda today.
4. Teta Isibo
Inzuki is a dynamic young Rwandan brand specialising in jewellery, accessories and interior decor that are handmade, of local materials. All products are Rwanda-made, Africa-inspired and globally-loved. their products are a fusion of traditional craftsmanship and contemporary style and their design philosophy seeks to transcend traditional Rwandan design and customize it to suit modern needs.
Bold and colorful accessories, jewelry, and interior decor are the cornerstones of Inzuki’s bourgeoning fashion label. Founded by Teta Isibo in 2010, Inzuki’s unique designs simultaneously merge traditional and contemporary Rwandan styles, and have quickly become known as some of Rwanda’s best work.
All pieces are made in the country with local materials, and her collaboration with other designers and sectors in the country is exciting to witness. Recently, Isibo designed the interior decor of the new and luxurious Bisate Lodge, one of Rwanda’s premier accommodation offerings. Further, with countless features in prominent online publications and an online store opening soon, Inzuki is becoming even more well known outside of Rwanda as an African lifestyle brand.
5. Nathalie Remera and Rwema Umutoni
UZI Collections was founded in July 2015 by Rwandans, Nathalie and Laurene, as a result of their passion and love for fashion. Their main focus is to create a brand of impact that empowers young people and to increase the economy of Rwanda through the fashion industry.
Newcomers Nathalie Remera and Rwema Umutoni founded Uzi Collections in 2015, and are dedicated to uniting their love of fashion with their focus on youth empowerment, Rwandan entrepreneurship, and creativity. Using colorful and handmade batik fabric, their designs are centered around a comfortable vintage feel.
The brand works to lift up and impact young people that did not originally have opportunities in Rwanda’s creative sector. Noting that the fashion industry in Rwanda has grown tremendously in the last five years, Uzi plans to keep that momentum going with further innovation and cross-sector collaboration.
6. Bernadette Umunyana
Dokmai was founded in 2014 as a private, family owned limited company by Mrs Bernadette Umunyana, DOKMAI is Rwanda’s premier leather fashion accessories company. DOKMAI thoughtfully designs and handcrafts purses, bags, wallets, and more in Rwanda. By pairing local leather with local kitenge fabric, these custom and handmade products have become immensely popular throughout the country.
Umunyana, before moving back to Rwanda, got her start in fashion in Laos and Burkina Faso. There, she focused on silk production and design. By bringing her talents back to Rwanda and working with leather, she has filled an important niche. In the future, DOKMAI is looking at expanding its offerings to include shoes, and focus on targeting clients throughout East Africa.
7. Sonia Mugabo
Mugabo a businesswoman, fashion designer and fashionista in Rwanda. She is the founder and chief executive officer of the fashion label Sonia Mugabo, which is named after her.
Sonia Mugabo (SM) began in 2013 as the brainchild of Sonia Mugabo herself. SM is one of the premier fashion houses in Rwanda, and Mugabo, as the chief designer and entrepreneur, creates beautiful clothing for the stylish and modern individual. Her timeless designs have become known as some of Rwanda’s finest, and her brand is undoubtedly a reflection of herself; elegant, feminine, and whimsical.
By breaking barriers and creating an accessible and genuine brand story, Mugabo is on her way to becoming one of the region’s most beloved designers. She has been featured in several major publications, and recently showed her designs in the CollectiveRW fashion week.
SM also plans to eventually expand to other global fashion markets, and hopefully present seasonal collections on the runways of major fashion shows around the world. Named one of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa by Forbes and one of Glam Africa’s 5 African designers to watch, Mugabo is going places.
8. Ituze Ndutiye Colombe
Ituze Ndutiye Colombe is a fashion designer and an ICT trainer with the Rwanda Workforce Development Authority (WDA). She is also the Founder and Creative Director of “INCO icyusa” which is the first fashion label owned by a Rwandan and introduced in Rwanda. She designs all of her clothing and accessories and works with women cooperatives to produce and sell products that are available in retail and custom order.
Her collections have been showcased in several Fashion shows in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and also in the United States through the “Cowboy and Couture 2012” in Oklahoma. The Africa Diva Award recognized Colombe with the Rwanda Fashion/Style Role Model award in 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and Information and Communication Technology from Mount Kenya University.
After completing the Washington Fellowship program, she will coach and create networking opportunities for young girls involved in the Duhugurane Project and the Young Adolescent Initiative (AGI) to help them successfully get internships and employment opportunities.
Content courtesy of Nairobi fashion hub Online Digital Team