Volume 1: September 2014

ISSUE #4: NAM Fashion: Follow or Unfollow?

Has fashion in NAM become the new Twitter? Returning to the Land of the Brave, having been away for a while, Fashion in this country that I love to call home has been an eye-opener.

When people ask what I do for a living, I kind of cringe when I say “I’m a fashion designer”. I prefer to be called a “fashion conceptualist”. Coming back from South Africa, I’ve realized that there are many opportunities when it comes to the fashion industry and one’s own individual style. South Africans are not afraid to start their own trends and even sub-cultural groups like “the smarties” (The smarties are a group of black youths mainly from Soweto, who dress from head to toe in a mixture random bright colours with a slight retro touch).

Here in Namibia there are some designers that I feel are pushing boundaries. These certain individuals are Loux the Vintage Guru (who seems to have a male fan following), Maria Caley and Chakirra Classen and Nikola Conradie (who is known for her remarkable tailoring). These are just a few names that I feel are conceptually making an impact in Namibia.

So in terms of the Namibian fashion industry, we are getting there. It is a slow, gradual rise that should be commended. Hey, at least we are rising right? The Fashion Council of Namibia was recently launched in the capital (thank you Jesus). I hope they will follow through with their mission statement, which is “To create competitive and accessible intervention programs thatwill enable the value of fashion chains to achieve sustainable businesses and partnerships both locally and internationally.” If they stick to their mission that would be amaze-balls.

But I do have some problems with the fashion industry… It seems that everyone in this country is trying to be a designer, be it fashion or graphic. Fashion shows are happening every weekend and certain designers are showcasing the same thing week after week, which I feel is just ridiculous. I can’t speak for many but I know that I get bored very easily and soon the audience that attends these weekly shows will get bored too. The purpose of a fashion show is to showcase a designer’s upcoming range of garments. Fashion shows debut every season, specifically spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons. But these weekly fashion shows, they have become like kasi parties. FYI – kasi parties are ratchet and worn out (Did I mention that they’re ratchet?)

I certainly feel as though there are blurred lines when defining what a fashion designer is. A fashion designer, to me, is someone who is doing something new, setting a new trend. A fashion designer follows ideas through from concept to completion. They follow the steps of an idea all the way through to the end product. One has to create ideas and push them through and bring them into existence. Fashion design grows through time, and, as we all know, fashion is timeless. It should also grow throughspace and become an object of existence and if you as an individual are doing that, then you can call yourself a designer, qualification or not. #I’mjustsaying

Having said that, being back home I have come to learn that Namibians are sheep when it comes to fashion. Yes, I said it – sheep. Ok shame, not everyone, but the majority of us Namibians are simply followers, trend-followers that is, thanks to our loyal friend Mr. Price, who seems never to disappoint people’s wardrobes. This is a generalization, but someone should point out that some Namibians are maybe just not innovative enough to start their own fashion trends. Others hate looking like the next Nangula or Petrus. The intention to be innovative in the way we dress is often judged by those people who think they are better off, simply because they are wearing ‘what is hot’.

So now, this is my challenge to you… you could be a leader instead of a follower. By finding your own individual style, you could put Namibia on the forefront of fashion. All it takes it a little originality, a bit of thinking for yourself and the courage to set your own trends instead of following others.

Lafika Joyce is a fashion conceptualist, who is known for telling the truth. Her designs are built on the foundation that ‘’Fashion is Art’’

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