Botswana’s couture queen Mpho Kuaho is setting yet another trend in the local fashion industry by bringing back the traditional German print, locally known as leteise.
Kuaho has brought back the famous leteise with her new fashion line and, from the look of things; the German print still retains its position as the number one fabric and fashion pattern of choice in the country.
In the past the German print was worn by elderly women during traditional functions such as weddings, funerals and other social events. To date, the German print has transcended the gender barriers, and has also proven to be a hit with men, featuring dominantly in modernized designs for both males and females.
While the German print was in the past a sign of prestige and maturity, worn exclusively as skirts, or dikhiba, by elderly women at traditional functions, they have also steadily gained popularity amongst the younger generation, as more and more younger women are slowly donning them to gala dinners and weddings. Of course, Kuaho had to be innovative and subject the skirts to vigorous revamping so that they are more in line with the latest fashion trends and therefore more appealing to the younger generation.
Nowadays male fashion connoisseurs are popularly seen wearing jeans with matching patches of the traditional German print. It is the in-thing, and Kuaho was right in the thick of things when this innovative fashion trend came to the fore.
This trend was previously unheard of, but today it is the in-thing among local fashionistas.
Young women, both in rural and urban areas have come to appreciate the modernized versions of the leteitse designs.
The award winning Kuaho told Lifestyle that the German print has always been the traditional attire for many Southern Africans, especially those from Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
“German prints have always been a part of our culture. They were a prestigious dress code that was initially reserved for elders” she said.
To date, she says, innovative designers have taken it to another level and more creativity has been invested in the outfits to make them more interesting and appealing to the younger generation.
Kuaho is a graduate of Durban’s Fashion Linea Academy. She owns ISSUES fashion shop and designing studio in River Walk. The outstanding designer has dressed outstanding celebrities and personalities like Minister Lesego Motsumi, Balete Paramount Chief Kgosi Mosadi Seboko, radio personality Luzboy and American singer and actress Jill Scott. In 2006 she put Botswana’s fashion industry on the international pedestal when she won the Redds Africa Fashion Designer competition. She was the wardrobe assistant for Botswana’s internationally acclaimed No 1 Lady’s Detective Agency.
She attributes her enormous success in the fashion industry to her innovation and the fact that she takes competition head on.
“I do not follow conventional fashion trends, instead I create fashion trends, and make every one of my clients feel special by designing outfits that are unique to their figures, character and personality” she says.
According to Kuaho, the fashion industry in Botswana is growing, and more and more Batswana are beginning to appreciate fashion.
“Fashion is art. It is something that we use to express ourselves as individuals” she says.
Kuaho urges Batswana to be more appreciative to fashion and receptive of emerging fashion trends.
“We should stop complaining that outfits are expensive because fabrics are not locally available, such that designers are forced to travel as far as India to get quality fabrics” she says.
Kuaho’s greatest ambition is to promote Botswana’s fashion industry and sell local designs in far off places like India.