It was glamour as Ugandan artisans showcased their latest art pieces at the first ever Afri art and fashion show organised by Trillion Looks Store in Kampala over the weekend.
The show held at the Thobani Centre in Kampala drew African fashion lovers, stylists, fashion designers and students in fashion as they marveled at creativity and talent as models donning pieces made by Ugandan artisans rocked the runway.
At the same function, Trillion Looks Store launched an e-commerce shop to link Ugandan artisans to buyers of their products from various parts of the world.
Speaking at the show, Grace Mbabazi Aulo from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities described the event as one of the ways to sell products of Ugandan artisans.
She said she spearheaded the development of the handicraft and souvenir development project in the ministry to help develop and promote products for Ugandan artisans
“Whenever tourists came to Uganda, they would buy foreign made stuff from our neighbours. I realised the need to have souvenirs of Uganda and I am happy this has paid off. This Afri art and fashion show is because of those efforts. I must thank Trillion Looks Store for promoting Uganda’s artisans and our youths plus women who have showcased at this show,” Aulo said.
“Why should we buy things from abroad when we can do it here? Let us embrace our own and buy from these people. We can have baskets, cups and other African pieces in homes made by our own artisans.”
The Ministry of Tourism official said by buying products by Ugandan artisans, the economy will be boosted for the greater benefit of everyone in the country.
She noted that the ministry has trained many of these artisans to get the required skills to improve the quality of their products.
“I don’t think our artisans will ever remain the same with such initiatives. With the launch of the e-commerce platform, we hope many people can access these products.”
According to Aisha Nabwanika, the Operations Manager for the Uganda Tourism Association, the fashion show is a big stride towards the right direction in marketing pieces by Ugandan artisans.
“This has been missing in our tourism industry for a long time because art is part and parcel of the tourism value chain. Artisan work is bought by tourists as souvenirs and it is something a person goes with back home to show to the entire people how beautiful this country is. We need to support them,” Nabwanika said.
She insisted that government ought to support the artisans as part of the efforts to grow the country’s economy.
“This is a crucial part of our tourism sector that needs to be supported. By supporting these artisans, we will be directly supporting the tourism industry and the economy at large.”
Nabwanika said launching the e-commerce shop is yet another initiative to help in marketing products by Ugandan artisans.
“Someone who would fly in a long distance to come and buy these products can now ably buy from wherever they are. This way, it is convenient for the buyer but also ensures the artisans earn something,” the Uganda Tourism Association official said.
Cerinah Nalwoga Kasirye, the founder of Trillion Looks Store said they work with marginalised women and youth artisans to help them mass produce, market and sell their products across the world.
“We started this initiative after realising there was a gap in creative sector to empower youth and women who are engaging in making artisanal products. Whereas there are so many projects to skill youths and women, little or no emphasis has been put on marketing their products,”Nalwoga said.
“We developed a platform to help them market the products across the globe.”
Speaking about the fashion show, she said it was organised to showcase products made by youths and women but also help them get a platform to have their products seen by the world.
“This has encouraged me because the youth and women artisans have got visibility for their products. With the launched e-commerce platform, the products can be easily bought.”
She said she hopes the fashion show can be held annually to ensure more artisans get an opportunity to have their products showcased for the world to know them.