Arapapa is Finally Ready To Explore International Markets
Read this week’s top fashion stories from Uganda and around the world…
“Our recent showcase at the Coterie in New York exposed us to expectations of the American buyers who are some of the world’s most meticulous and demanding consumers of fashion. We were opened up to new markets and that means new areas of fashion production,” Anzo explains.
Anzo is working hard towards overhauling Arapapa’s production system. Part of her grand plan is to set up a fully-fledged factory, complete with a design and sales centre. This will also mean re-invention of the fashion brand.
African menswear can no longer be considered an exotic afterthought or as somewhat separate from the international scene. How African designers are understood beyond the continent is often synonymous with the vivid visual motifs and hyper-stylization of a few African menswear references. The style movement behind the Congo’s flamboyant Les Sapeurs, working class men who spend the majority of their salaries on clothing, coupled with the arresting portraiture of Malian photographers like Seydou Keita and Malick Sidibé have cemented this idea still further in the foreign gaze.
The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania have a distinctive look that is widely imitated. Their style and name alike have been used by high-end designers such as Louis Vuitton, manufacturers like moccasin maker Minnetonka, and many more. You can buy a “Maasai” bathing suit for $300, or a “Maasai mosh dress” for $430, online, right now.
These items are not actually made by the Maasai people, though, nor are they compensated for anything sold under brands using their name, which has helped sell billions of dollars worth of goods worldwide over the years, according to Light Years IP, a Washington, DC nonprofit that works on public interest intellectual property issues internationally. That’s why it created the Maasai Intellectual Property Initiative (MIPI), putting businesses on notice. Companies must cease and desist referring to the trademark name Maasai or copying the signature Maasai style without a licensing agreement.
I did an interview with an American Cameroonian woman who had created a bleaching cream (Check here in case you missed it). Before it, I was uncomfortable and told my editor I wasn’t so sure about the direction this interview would take. It was so embarrassing. I asked her why she bleaches her skin, she said ‘why not?’ I put a picture of her before and after bleaching. She looked so beautiful before. I asked what was wrong with that girl, why did she have to change. She said ‘why not, what’s wrong with it. Sophie you have a perm don’t you? Sophie, we all do fake things don’t we?’ Turning this thing round was something else; I never answered her but just kept asking other questions. When it comes to issues like skin or hair, these are tough interviews because women feel differently, so I normally don’t take a stand on these issues.