Like in most countries in Africa, in Malawi, fashion designing is becoming an ideal business for most upcoming entrepreneurs. Making clothes for occasions like weddings, bridal showers, and even office wear is more rewarding in the upcoming fashion markets in Africa and beyond.
The blending of modern and traditional design on the market in Africa is also a major trend in fashion in Africa, which has led to the tremendous growth in the business.
One of the renowned fashion designers in Malawi, Towera Mkandawire of House of Towera designs, said that blending traditional and modern design is the way to go if you are to satisfy the generation of the twenty-first century. She said that fashion defines a society, and the people can be told of their social economic status just considering the clothes that they wear.
“It always involves creativity for you to come up with the design that can be accepted by the public. There are just a lot of factors that are to be put into consideration before you start to produce anything; you could think of the market itself, the culture of the people that you are targeting, their economic status and of course their level of education,” said Towera.
Her words strongly echo the great British philosopher Francis Bacon who said, “Fashion is the only attempt to realize art in living forms and social intercourse”. This living form of art holds power, the power to control a part of one’s image. A person can play a role, embody a story or represent an era based on what he or she chooses to wear.
Towera uses pieces of Chitenje blending them with stretchable materials, polyester, feathers, and beads to come with a desirable product that meets the customer’s expectations. She produces men’s shirts, dresses, bikinis, and many other products, and some of her designs have been used by the Miss Malawi Contestants for 2017.
Besides numerous challenges that she faces, including scarcity and changes of prices of materials, and lack of unskilled labor that jeopardizes her productivity, Towera has put much commitment and dedication into her work and successfully managing her business and the welfare of her employees. House of Towera has three full-time employees and two part-time volunteers whom she is managing.
Since 2014, her career has taken off, and she plans to further her studies in order to meet the maximum potential in her business. Towera participated in the Mzuzu Fashion Week, which happens every year at Sunbird Mzuzu Hotel, and other similar events showcasing her products as part of advertisement and building relationships with local companies.
She now intends to attend next year's Love Malawi festivals and Africa Fashion festivals, as she notes it to be a prestigious opportunity for fashion and clothing business considering that the event draw participants from different backgrounds and localities.
The end game with fashion in this generation is quality over quantity, for reasons both financial and cultural, and it is uncommon to find luxurious details.