It was all about fashion over the weekend in Dar es Salaam


(Posted 08th December 2014)

Designers, models, sponsors and especially award winners, among them Millen Magesse who was honoured with a Humanitarian Award for her charitable work, were full of praises for the organization of the just ended Swahili Fashion Week and Mustafa Hassanali took a deserved bow when the Gala Night Award Show ended last evening at the Sea Cliff Hotel in Dar es Salaam.

19 other awards were given out last night, all voted for by the public and formally audited and supervised by NEXIA SJ to ensure transparency of the process and a correct outcome, as much hinges on winning such awards for up and coming young designer, models, hair and makeup artists, but even fashion journalists, fashion photographers and fashion bloggers to advance their future careers and fortunes in their professions.

On the last night did some of Africa’s best fashion designers from South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia showcase their season’s collection, as did selected Tanzanian designers alongside them and the crowd which filled the tent to capacity and had people peeping in from the outside appreciated the efforts with constant applause, a sign that the runway on the last night was truly populated by winners.

This 7th edition of the Swahili Fashion Week was described by regular attendees as the best and most exciting ever to this correspondent and the free drinks from one of the main sponsors of the event, Bailey’s – celebrating the brand’s 40th anniversary – certainly helped to get the crowd into the right mood. Visitors had come from all over East Africa giving further impetus to claims by Tanzania that indeed had Dar es Salaam become the fashion hub of the region from where the original idea of having fashion events spread to neighbouring countries. In fact several of the regional awards of the night did go to Kenyan award nominees, though sadly none of the Ugandan or Rwandan nominees did make it to the top of the list this year.

Said Mustafa Hassanali when asked to comment about his event and history of the past seven years: ‘Swahili Fashion Week is the biggest and largest fashion event in the whole East and Central Africa providing a platform for fashion and accessory designers from Swahili speaking countries and beyond to showcase their talent, market their creativity and network with clientele and the international fashion industry. This is all aimed at emphasizing to the region that fashion is an income generating creative industry, meanwhile promoting a ‘Made in Africa’ concept. The Swahili Fashion Week is geared towards being the most sought after, respected and preferred fashion platform in Africa for the international market. Our Swahili Fashion Week aims to promote Eastern African fashion brands, improve the quality and output of fashion design from East Africa, provide a platform for up and coming young designers in the region and create opportunities for East African products in African Diaspora markets’.

Considering the number of dedicated fashion weeks and fashion events across the region and on the continent is the word ‘fashion tourism’ not too farfetched as indeed do designers and models, but also in increasing numbers the fashionistas of their respective countries take to the air or to the road to follow their ‘stars’ around the continent while seeing the latest designs from Western or Southern Africa.

All in all it was time well spent to see the fashion week unfold over the past several days and help to spread the word that our region does have some very serious designers who preferably use locally produced fabrics, either hand woven or else from the textile companies keen to become part of the supply chain especially for the colourful prints seen turned into fashionable every day and evening wear.

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