If there is one form of art many people are struggling to use to communicate, it is fashion.
With music, the message is sung, with film or theatre, they act it out, yet, even when clothes are a glimpse into one’s state of mind, many people do not seem to know how to effectively communicate with fabric.
Yet that is what the annual Kwetu Kwanza fashion and culture conference tries to achieve, marrying the message of environmental sustainability with fashion.
This year, the event held at Motiv in the industrial area in Kampala brought together dancers, sustainable fashion designers, visual artists and filmmakers to talk about the environment but also exhibit their affirmative art towards conservation.
On display, there were works of recycled fabric, cloth cuttings, paper, polythene and rubber waste.
An initiative of IGC, a fashion and costume label from Kampala that exists as a community project. They live to design outfits with African inspiration but while at it, impact the communities around them.
IGC is an acronym of its founders, Ibrahim and Godfrey’s fashion Community. According to Godfrey Katende, says their backbone is trotted in communities, for instance, they have already done a number of activities with communities believing that the workshops will create awareness but as well create something sustainable for those involved.
For this conference, Kwetu Kwanza, it is all about the environment because according to Katende, even when fashion is important, the earth comes first.
“Fashion is a big polluter of the environment and it’s not just the fashion designers but the users as well,” he says.
Katende says since clothes are cheap, people buy many clothes that they get tired of and later dispose of, “these are clothes we later find in trenches blocking water flow or part of rubbish.”
With the exhibition, he brings together fashion designers that use old clothes to make new clothes.
Fiona Naigwe, one of the exhibitors makes wearable outfits out of fabrics made out of a loom. She says the industry has been infested with secondhand clothes and such original and sustainable fabric can be a solution.
“But of course we need a mentality change, Ugandans need to start by appreciating the fabric to pay for its worth,” she says.
Kwetu Kwanza also held panel discussions in partnership with KQ, another cultural organisation and the British Council. But one of the most outstanding innovations at this year’s event was the 3D virtual tour available for those that couldn’t make it to the show.
Other exhibitors included Njola, a recycle artist that deals with plastic and rubber, dancers and Nakimuli Crochet Everywhere.
Minori Itabashi alias Nakimuli from Japan created a story installation that details the co-existence of humans and nature. In her story, she presents the beauty of nature and how humans are polluting it, while using burn collages, she shows how humanity is also trying to stand and save nature.
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