Preserving the environment through fashion

From today, the 4th edition of Africa Fashion and Arts Festival gets underway. The event ends tomorrow. However, this year the event is unique in that it is being held in line with practices that promotes sustainable and ethical fashion. Our Arts editor EDITH GONDWE caught up with Lorraine Kljajic, the director of Lush Africa, organisers of the annual event for details.

Q

: What is in store for fashion lovers this year at the African Fashion and Arts Festival?

A

: This year we are kick starting our annual event with Beauty Master Class to be happening this Saturday at Latitude 13 Hotel. We collaborated with some of the biggest names in the beauty industry in Malawi such as Zani Beauty, Mayi Cosmetics, Fra’s Beauty and Hair Saloon and Ms Neema Beauty Bar. The event is a Black Opal and Lush Africa initiative, in an effort to share skills on skin care and make up tips. We then have our usual VVIP cocktail event, which is strictly by invitation to serve as an appreciation to all our partners and sponsors and show the diplomatic community the talent that Malawi has. Zaluso Arts will auction some of their art pieces that night and Luzio will entertain the crown with his slow jams.

Then on November 16 our main events consists of fashion, art and music, this year we have 15 designers from South Africa, Zambia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Malawi. Q Malewezi, The Kings Rifles, Danny Kalima and Swaziland musician Zwale, will also entertain the crowd. Seeing that our theme this year is Sustainable and Ethical Fashion; our guest designer this year is Mayamiko Designs, the brand that recently made news worldwide by dressing the Royal Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Q

: One of the things that caught my attention is the fact that you are promoting ethical fashion, sustainable fashion. What do you mean by this?

A

: Ethical fashion means ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare. This means no pollution during production of materials, no fur, leather etc from animals, no child exploitation, and enforcing fair trade. While sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion.

Sustainable and ethical fashion practices are very important as they bring awareness on the following issues of child labour, low wages, health and safety risks, environmental degradation and animal cruelty. It is imperative that the Malawi fashion industry start understanding the importance of these two movements, material such as denim and leather are made with no regard to the environment, however we also want to encourage designers to re-use these fabrics by designing something new from the old, not to just throw it away where it takes years to be biodegraded.

Q

: Who are the designers showcasing this year?

A

: We have about 15 shortlisted designers: Candid-South Africa, Nozihlobo- South Africa, Fresh Wear-South Africa, M101- Zambia, Scorpii Clothing –Malawi, House of Daniella-Malawi, Mayamiko Designs, Nga’le –Congo, Funky Africa and many others.

Q

: So, how far have you gone with preparations as days draw near?

A

: Yes! Everything is in order, partners are on board and service providers have been selected. Our designers are selected six months before the show and our models five months before the show, this is done so to make sure the designers have ample time to buy fabrics, design their collection and fit the models.

Q

: What other aspects of arts will be showcased during this event?

A

: This year, we have included poetry as part of art. There is a special performance by Q Malewezi. His performance is a collaboration with Lush Africa. It’s very special tackling the women empowerment issues. We also have Zaluso Arts who will demonstrate the digital art as a new form of art. There will be dances by Salama Dance Crew expressing art in dance form.

Our VIP ticket holders will get a goodie bag with stuff from Glam n Glory, Black Opal, the bag is made out of hessian [Chiguduli] material and chitenje to emphasize our sustainable and ethical Practices, this was designed by our in house fashion label –House of Stitches. n

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