The Uganda International Fashion Week lived much to its billing and left it’s mark on all the fashion enthusiasts that attended.
The three day event went down at Serena Hotel in Kampala. Nile Post caught up with the host, Santa Anzo on the sidelines of the Business Symposium that went down on Day 2 and now Jonah Kirabo writes.
How do you describe Santa Anzo?
Santa Anzo is a very happy, loyal and committed individual happy to make a difference.
Describe your fashion journey
I started out as a model and later opened a modeling agency of my own. As my models dressed in unique designs at events, they were spotted and once they were spotted my fashion journey begun and that is when my Fashion journey begun. The clothes my models wore would be picked up by corporate individuals and before we knew we had to made visual expressions in terms of fashionable clothes for breweries, communications companies, we did one for the Uganda Investment company.
I was pushed by demand to make a store at Buganda Road. Because of demand we were overwhelmed and moved to lower kololo and later moved to Oasis mall, we stretched our budget and moved in to a suitable premise at Bugolobi Village mall
Do you think Ugandans have fully exploited the fashion industry?
Fashion is like any other business like petroleum and gas, agriculture, transport, communication. It is a multi-billion industry waiting to be tapped and in Africa especially in Uganda we have not done that. We only know the glamour, the paparazzi, and the beautiful models. That is a tip of what fashion can offer.
The business behind fashion simply means fashion is not only about the glamour, the lights, and all the glitz that surround fashion shows. We are not entertainment. We may provide entertainment but that is what meets the eye. Behind Fashion shows there is real work, the business is the structure, the money, the promise in terms of employment that fashion makes. The fashion industry globally accounts for 2% of the GDP and in a recent study by ADP it constitutes to up to 726 billion USD dollar.
That is not small fry
The business behind fashion further Promises that fashion can be a vehicle that can be used for swift economic development in Africa but in particular in Uganda where we have 77% of us is youth yet 80% of our youth are unemployed you can see the statistics is miserable yet here is untapped industry which can absorb all our unemployed youth and women.
According to Fashionomics, a program launched by the African Development Bank Fashion and the textile sector actually accounts for the largest employer in the Sub Sahara Africa and only second to agriculture that simply means that if emphasis is put into this business and is exploites access to markets is increased, access to finance is made available, proper training is provided and research for the target groups there is so much that we can earn.
I would like to adapt with the South African model that is why I partnered with them this year. They create the product but again they open up markets for their fashion designers which is why they are doing very well and we do not have that in Uganda. And the business is immerse, the business behind fashion we are saying let us turn away from shunning new ideas, Fashion is new in Uganda but it is not new in the world that is why we have powerful economy such as China, such as India, Turkey, France, Italy investing heavily in fashion because it is a huge employer but also it is 100% value addition. We make crazy profits if the structures are set in place
How is the fashion industry adapting to changing consumer tastes and expectations?
I was telling someone earlier that we have no choice but to adapt to the changes otherwise we are going to be left behind, then business is driven by demand. When we started out we were 100% Ugandans but we were pushed by our clients who said they needed something new and that when is when we launched the Kaftan collection.
The industry is driven by the consumer expectations and tastes
How has technology influenced the growth of the fashion industry?
Different fashion apps have now made it easy to showcase what we have to offer, you can follow online. With Visa and credit cards we can now trade with someone as far as Japan while in Kampala.