Style man: Derrick Kityo is a comic artist whose dream has been to meet Abryanz Collection owner Brian Ahumuza. He wanted to know how he has been able to become a fashion icon in Uganda in such a short time.
What inspired you to go into fashion?
The desire to see people look nice. And it all starts with me, because I always want to look presentable.
I always see celebrities mentioning your shop and I can see some here. Do they pay when they wear your items or you just give them free of charge?
(Laughs) I wouldn’t still be here if they were taking things for free because Uganda has over 1,000 celebrities. They pay because at the end of the day, I have bills to clear.
Where did you get the money to start this up?
I didn’t get it all at once, it was a gradual process. It is a big achievement in such a short time and I’m grateful for everything I have achieved. I wasn’t like this four months ago and I believe I won’t be the same a year to come.
You look to be accomplished. Do you really have any challenges like any other businessman?
Yes, of course and one of them like you asked, is celebrities wanting things free of charge and on credit. The other challenge is that I own men’s clothing stores and men are not fashionable. They haven’t embraced fashion yet. Then there is a limit on how far we can take fashion because of what culture expects of us. Being a growing industry, it’s hard for sponsors to invest in it unlike the music and movie industries. Besides, there is no TV channel or radio station dedicated to fashion and so on.
How did you pick interest in fashion?
I got it from my family, on my mother’s side. My mum was a tailor and my aunties are also involved in the same business, so I grew up heading in that direction. There is no way I could go to school or at function shabby.
What do you think is lacking in Uganda’s fashion industry?
Professionalism. Lack of models, make-up artistes and the mentality of honouring international brands in Uganda.
How old are you?
I’m turning 25 this year.
What qualities should a good designer have?
He should be unique, creative, do a lot of research, be professional, disciplined, humble and selective.
Being at the top is challenging. How have you been able to stay up there?
Thank you for the compliment and yes I’m at the top because I set a trend for others to follow. I believe in myself and I’m not yet ready to give up. I’m full of surprises and my passion is my number one driving force. I’m motivated and always come up with new ideas that positively impact society.
What can I do to be like you?
You can’t be like me. You are either better or worse. But you just need to know what you want, go for what you are good at and follow your passion. Some people studied medicine but they end up being musicians or footballers.