Kampala Fashion Week: Part 1

October 1, 2018  

Kampala Fashion Week at Five

This past weekend, in Kampala, Uganda, Paper Fig staff and Paper Fig Fellows executed what has become one of the biggest fashion events in East Africa. Kampala Fashion Week started five years ago when Gloria Wavamunno returned to her home country from a successful start to her career as a young designer in Europe.

“She’s done Fashion Week in Paris, she had a line, and was very successful,” said Rachel Young, who runs the Cities Programs for the Paper Fig Foundation. “She went to school in London. She has a lot of professional training but didn’t know how to execute within her country. When we met we were so excited that she wanted to work with emerging designers as well as move the industry forward in her country.”

So Paper Fig partnered with Wavamunno, and Kampala Fashion Week was born. Since then, the event has evolved.

“Kampala Fashion Week has grown in leaps and bounds,” said Young. “They’ve been committed to the learning and applying of skills. They came in knowing they were not the experts.”

What resulted from this sense of humility is KFW was able to learn from the best practices of LDJ and New York Fashion Week, and to apply it to their own needs. Even though the perception, at first, was that fashion was only for entertainment, the potential for fashion as an engine for economic growth is becoming more clear.

“Organizers make money, volunteers gain skills,” explained Young. “It’s creating jobs that people would have never thought needed to be there. It’s entertainment that we know is going to grow into industry.”