Does Fashion Design exist in Tanzania?

It's Wednesday and I am feeling a bit,let's talk about something ....a bit wicked too. The Fashion design industry in Tanzania. Yes, today I want to discuss the Tanzanian men and women whom we call DESIGNERS. From the likes of Asya Idarous, Mama Africa, Mustafa Hassanali, Khadija Mwanamboka, Ally the new names like Elisha Red label, The Speshoz, Choice Fashion and many more. This is going to be more of a monologue with a question for you,so please bear with me, my dear Reader. Here we go...
I started following up on the "Tanzania Fashion design Industry" since early 2000's when i used to do cutouts of Frank Gonga's photoshoots in newspapers, back then when I was still in a boarding Secondary school. Khanga and Kitenge were the main materials used, and it was beautiful! Mama Africa started mixing the materials and introducing leather and beads in between, I started imitating her designs into my Fundi Juma requests,every holiday season. Then 2010 came and I decided to join the fun,as a fashion blogger...Swahili Fashion Week 2011 became the best arena to experience what our designers had to offer...Unfortunately, it also gave me a chance to COMPARE the Tanzanian products Vs other African designers....and that awe started to sound more like oooohhhh!!
As years went by, the khanga/kitenge continued to dominate...well,with a twist of it being incorporated into other materials,but still it remained as the identifier for our Tanzanian designs. Colors and patterns kept us going
As a fashion blogger, I got to take lots of pictures during the fashion events/shows. Having that opportunity for a closer look didn't help the situation. I got to see how badly our FINISHING is, how ready-made items were BORROWED and incorporated into the NEW fashion collection and paraded on that runway.... But still,I had hopes.
Then Martin Kadinda came along with the single-button blazers....not so new,but it kept the momentum. As I went around looking for more varieties in terms of designs and materials, Mustafa Hassanali kept the silk and satin alive...then voilaaaaaa here comes the lace! Lace became the elegant material for every designer who could copy a certain American or European  designer...and maybe add a hint of khanga/kitenge or for some,beads. My Oooohhhh! dropped into a whaaaaat?
If you don't know the story behind this dress, please go above to the SEARCH button and type SHERIA VERA WANG...

Looking at the current trends and designs by people like Elisha Red Label, my heart sinks even farther. Bella Naija seems to be the most visited site.... because nowadays Nigerian weddings and ours seems too alike! Our events are full of DAPPER looking people, dressed to perfection by none other than our amazing designers...only problem is......we have seen that suit design last week....We liked  an INSTAGRAM picture of that same dress jana...and oooh,..that design...well,it was originally done by an American designer before it was copied by the designer that YOUR designer copied! oooops!

All the above leave me with a question....What is the Tanzanian fashion design industry? Besides Diana Magesa recycling and creating masterpieces...or when Ally Rehmtullah went for HAIR as part of his designer blazer...and other very minimal examples....does fashion design really exist in Tanzania?

Leave me your comment below.

Missie Popular


  1. Tanzania hakuna wabunifu wa mavazi,wengi wao wan copy kazi za wabunifu wa n'je na kusema wamebuni,kama ukiona n'je tu wabunifu wakubwa wanasema tasnia ya ubunifu kwasasa imeingiliwa kwani kila mtu ni mbunifu lakini kazi zao zinafanana hivyo hamna jipya watu wanaangalia pesa mladi ina ingia,na kinachoniuma mimi hakuna vazi la taifa kisa makabila yapo mengi na kila mtu anamavazi yake kitu ambacho si sahihi,tukisema libuniwe vazi la kutuwakilisha Tanzania na hawa wabunifu wakipewa kazi basi tutacopiwa vazi la kikorea,...........teh

  2. This is why I like you, you always stand with the truth. It's a bit surprising when a person call him or herself a designer while he or she copy everything from the internet.