A New Spin On The Hills
Forbes Africa|August 2019
A New Spin On The Hills

The fashion industry is on a roll in the hill country of Rwanda, with local designers and products giving foreign brands a run for their money.

Fiona Muthoni Naringwa

RWANDA’S STORY OF HOPE AND resilience pervades all its business sectors, but nowhere is it more apparent than its vibrant fashion industry, which has come from being virtually non-existent to now making the world take note of its trendy threads.

Twenty five years after the horrific genocide against the Tutsi, the East African country is now rated the 29th easiest place to do business in the world. On Africa’s fashion runways too, it is marching ahead.

Despite the fashion industry here being fairly new – starting less than two decades ago – its zeal for consistent growth, creativity and quality have maintained the momentum, ensuring repeat mentions in the style glossies. A growing number of Rwandan designers are gracing continental and global fashion events. For most, fashion is a medium that patches together the country’s rich culture, heritage and beauty. The industry, comprising designers, models, makeup artists, fashion photographers and event producers, has provided a platform for young people to come together and discover their talent.

From about seven designers in the early 2000s to boasting more than 60 upcoming and established designers and over 1,000 models now, this is surely a sector to watch out for in a country of 12 million.

Teta Isibo, the CEO of Inzuki Designs, a household name in Rwanda for handmade jewelry, accessories and home décor, started her career as a hobby and in time, the demand pushed her to found her company in January 2012.

“When I was younger, I loved jewelry. I was fascinated by the art of it and I was curious. Whenever I went out to buy them, I got frustrated by the fact that everything was the same and lacked creativity,” says Isibo.

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August 2019