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The three northern stars claiming a spot among Tanzania's fashion elites

Saturday January 23 2021
Fashion pic
By Diana Elinam

The beaming crowds, bright lights, and unshaken runways in Tanzania’s cosmo city of Dar es Salaam have made this commercial capital a predilection for fashion lovers. As an ideal fashion haven, Dar is considered the flag bearer of the national fashion industry.

So when The Beat ran into three fervent designers from the northern regions of Kilimanjaro and Arusha who are doing well in the industry dominated by designers from Dar es Salaam, we had to dig deeper and unearth the secret behind their success.

Designers Glory James – founder and creative designer of Afroposh, Amedeus Chuwa – founder and creative designer of Chuwa fashion, and Polycarp Makoi – founder and creative designer of Zado fashion have secured seats among the elites in Tanzania’s fashion scene.

Amedeus Chuwa, an award-winning designer hailing from Kilimanjaro started his journey in the fashion world 9 years ago.

Chuwa spent three years learning creativity and designing all in a bid to perfect his craft.

The 30-year-old proprietor of Chuwa Designs came from a humble fashion background before building his way up. “I asked my sister to connect me with a local tailor, where I could learn tailoring,” he recalls.

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Before keying into the world of apparel creativity Chuwa tried out different income-generating activities which all ended on a negative note.

He eventually decided to get into fashion. He sought expert knowledge by enrolling at Air Wing College. During the same period, he opened a tailoring business to cushion financial burdens.

In 2016, Chuwa sought advice from local fashion guru Mustafa Hassanali, after which he promptly got an invite to participate at the 2017 edition of Swahili Fashion Week.

A father of two, Chuwa has seen immense success in the fashion world which has opened doors for him to collaborate with international fashion figures.

He now plans to turn his fashion outlet into a small industry. by doing so he will be giving opportunities to other people to benefit from his success.

For Glory James, founder and Creative designer of Afriposh, her passion for fashion and design was inspired by her late mom through her creative art in embroidering bed sheets. Afriposh is a jewelry designing line that has expanded to clothes as well.

Glory recalls how her mother was pivotal in nurturing her fashion affinity “My mom would always give me sewing thread (yarn) which I used on my dolls.” Unfortunately, her mother died when Glory was still very young so her journey into fashion somehow withered.

It was during her university days that her passion for fashion was reignited after she spotted Maasais designing several jewelries. She approached them and they started working together.

Glory then started posting her creative work online and one day a customer from South Africa approached her virtually. This opened new doors for the hungry designer/entrepreneur who embarked on cross-border online trade to South Africa, and later to Kenya, USA and Europe. She later graduated to opening a physical shop.

Her brand Afriposh was created in 2016. Afriposh is a luxury African-inspired jewelry and accessories brand based in Arusha which aims at transforming African traditional clothing styles into high-end fashion.

“As a young designer, I have succeeded to showcase my collection at Swahili fashion week 2020 and won an award as accessory designer of the year, as well as empowering fellow women economically through beading skills,” she says.

One of Glory’s limelight from her creative work is when singer Janet Jackson wore designs made by Afriposh in her ‘Made for Now’ 2018 music video.

Also in 2019, Nigerian singer Yemi Alade wore Afriposh pieces in her music video Shekere, thanks to a connection by Kenyan stylist Wambui Thimba.

Over the years of working hard, Glory has learned to be patient and to stay focused and know that there will be difficult moments along the way. She thus advises her fellow youth to do what they love and do it wholeheartedly and energetically.

Polycarp Makoi is a 27-year-old fashion designer who owns his own fashion brand – Zado fashion.

He has learned how to make quality designs and prepare a fashion collection. Polycarp says his goal is to be recognized nationally and internationally in the fashion world. “I am very ambitious in building my brand and look forward to expanding my product market internationally, establish a factory and help other talented youth to succeed in fashion,” he says, adding, “Fashion is my life, I am built for this.”

Polycarp knew he wanted to be a designer from early on. His family encouraged him and gave him the push to pursue his dream.

With dismal success in academia, he decided to join his mom in her business of selling second-hand clothes (Mitumba).

He started devising ways to come up with capital to establish his own fashion business. He banked on his other passion for athletics and started partaking in marathon running to fundraise for his fashion business. However, this move didn’t go according to plan

He tried other occupations which were all in vain, in the end, he met fellow design enthusiast Chuwa who took him through the fashion ropes.

He later bought materials and a sewing machine, started working and it was only upward from there.

These three northern stars are filled with great energy, desire and dedication for their craft in fashion, indicating a bright future ahead.