Gaborone’s burgeoning reputation as a 21st-century design hub got a boost recently when telecoms giant, Mascom, hosted local designers as part of their countdown to the 10th anniversary of the annual Mascom Derby in Maun.
The Mascom Derby Fashion Show was held under the stars at Cresta Rileys Hotel gardens on Friday, March 25th. Local designers and a couple of fashion retailers showcased some of their finest designs as beautiful models took turns strutting their stuff on the catwalk.
Soothing sounds like Frank Sinatra’s ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ serenaded the evening as guests were treated to amazing designs. Dj La Timmy also provided some entertainment as he got the ladies drooling with his sexually provocative dance moves. Mascom’s CEO Jose Viera Couceiro, Chief Communications and Public Relations Officer Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego, and BFA president Tebogo Sebego were also among the audience.
“To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Mascom Derby we have introduced the fashion show as part of the events,” said a statement from Mascom. The company said the aim was to elevate the event to promote local designers as well as support the local modeling industry by providing them with more opportunities to practice their craft.
“This year we have invited three local designers to showcase their work under our fashion theme for the year ‘headed north, rustic feel which speaks to simplistic comfortable and wearable fashion that encompasses the northern culture’.”
Speaking at the event Lebotse-Sebego (a fashion icon herself) said the fashion industry is the one area Mascom has not been actively involved in.
She said the main challenge faced by local designers is lack of support from locals. “People do not negotiate prices at top clothing retailers but they expect to negotiate with local designers,” Lebotse-Sebego said, adding, “We should learn to accept that the price these designers charge is the actual value of the item.” She said she has always believed in the local industry.
“This is locally made,” she said as she tugged at her beautiful dress designed by Lesedi Matlapeng. “All the stuff you see on Fashion TV can be designed right here in Botswana.”
She said the time had come for Batswana to recognise and support local designers, most of whom are already well established. She said Mascom intends to grow the fashion show and make it part of the annual Mascom Derby.
Because of the lack of recognition and apparent rejection in their own country, she said some designers have resorted to relocating to neighbouring countries where their work is acknowledged and the rewards are better. “This is where we go wrong as Batswana. How do we expect the industry to grow if we do not give these people assurance and the support they need? I believe it is high time we make them feel appreciated so that they may see reason to stay.” She advised Batswana to give local designers constructive feedback from time to time so that they can correct their mistakes and grow even better.
One of the designers, Boitumelo Seboko from Ramotswa said in an interview that her love for fashion saw her travelling around the world where she had the opportunity to bench-mark with fellow designers through workshops and other forums. As a graduate of the London International School of Fashion, Seboko’s achievements include among others, receiving a Presidential Award in 2014 as well as emerging as a winner at the My Africa Fashion Show in Canada. She has also been to Angola and South Africa, and has attended exhibitions as an upcoming youth designer; something which she says has helped her grow her ability even more after meeting seasoned fashion designers.
“I must say I am inspired by the things around me. I always look at other people’s designs and that alone gives me the drive to want to continue doing more and be more creative. The industry itself is challenging but that doesn’t scare me even a bit. I wish to thank Mascom for this once in a lifetime opportunity of giving us chance to showcase our designs. My coming to Maun has also given me a chance to interact with other designers as we share the same challenges,” Seboko said. Her collection on the night was inspired by animal prints.
Other designers who showcased their designs included Wame Ledimo of ‘WAME’ clothing line based in Maun. Her collection is inspired by the water-lily flower (Tswii) and the beautiful surrounding of Maun.
Oganne Baitsile and Gift Lajini (Francistown) showcased their ‘Apara’ Brand.
The collection was inspired by the Tsodilo prints. Maungo Ditshwane (Maun)’s designs were inspired by African prints. Tebogo Nhlatho of Open Button Boutique (Maun) also showcased some of the designs on their stock. The fashion show was held in collaboration with ‘Fashion without Boarders’.