It is amazing how most young people in Zambia keep up with the latest fashion trends around the world. Given the number of designers coming up, one would think that Zambia had a design school offering design courses, which it does not. The younger population in Zambia will turn to anything they see and deem fashionable. This generation is enthusiastic and flirty when it comes to clothes.
Most people with a passion for fashion have taken up that calling and are pursuing fashion design. This is evident with a large number of designers mushrooming around the country. Believe it or not, most (if not all) of these designers have one thing in common. The designers, and their clients, are slowly starting to embrace the local material,‘Chitenge’, to make designs. Usually associated with church services, initiation ceremonies and traditional attire, or at home as a sign of respect, the Chitenge material has always been viewed to be traditional and conservative.
The designers and their clients are embracing the chitenge because the material is vibrant, rich in pattern and fun to work with and wear. Local designers like Kutowa designs (one of the SMEs working with Challenges Worldwide at the moment) is promising to keep the chitenge culture alive but doing so in a trendy way with an edge. Who would have thought you would one day rock a chitenge blazer? Or that a chitenge can be used to make a gorgeous summer dress? Or a pair of heels and bags customized with Chitenge material? The men are also embracing this trend with purchasing Chitenge shirts, jeans, shirts and blazers with patches of Chitenge material.
Life in the rural areas of Zambia is different though. Most people in these areas are more conservative when it comes to fashion.
Zambia has in the recent years been hosting the Zambia Fashion Week and the Lusaka July to showcase the different designs by the many different designers. The functions enable potential buyers to choose preferred garments from the catwalk and take them home.
Life in the rural areas of Zambia is different though. Most people in these areas are more conservative when it comes to fashion. They tend to stick to the ordinary shirts and Chitenge materials. Sometimes owning a large number of Chitenges to choose from for the many different occasions and having set aside some materials for special occasions like travelling and weddings. Life in the rural areas is not as complex as the city life. There is not a lot of competition in terms of fashion. Men, on the other hand, are very comfortable with a pair of trousers and a shirt.
All in all, Zambians are trendy and classy when it comes to fashion. With a lot of new comers in the fashion world showcasing their different talents and socialites making appearances in the many different fashion shows to show support.
Written by: Annah Chirwa