In 2016 you nominated and voted for this list of the '2016 TopZedBrands Winner and Finalists'. And on that list, we have a total of 10 Zambian brands that you support and love. Kamanga Wear, was one of those brands. We asked them to let us (and you), know why they think it is important for Zambians to 'Buy Local and Zambian First'.
Why Buy Local Fashion? By Fay Sowden
Kamanga Wear is a Zambian Ethnic Eclectic ready-to-wear brand that offers an alternative to international mass-produced garments. Since its inception six years ago, the Kamanga Wear brand has managed to grow from a fully dependent start-up into a self-sufficient small scale business. It has successfully managed to develop a business model that designs, produces, markets and sells a clothing line that is, without doubt, one of Zambia’s leading locally produced ready-to-wear women’s clothing lines. This couldn’t have been possible without the support of our local customer base.
Kamanga Wear aspires to be a leading ready-to-wear brand at home and abroad. More often than not people choose to buy clothing made overseas in factories rather than clothing made by Zambians for Zambians. As consumers, sometimes we do not think twice about the long-term effects of our shopping habits on the communities we live in. We have become addicted to low-cost products made abroad (and also thinking that foreign things are better) and got hooked on accumulating quantity over quality. Products that used to be built to last are now built to be disposed of, making them seem “cheaper” at first glance.
Every culture has different kinds of fashion trends according to their tastes and preferences. Diverse fashion styles can be found all over the world. But at Kamanga Wear we see fashion as a symbol that represents a bonding amongst the local community. Since it represents the fashion sense of a community, establishing which fashion to follow is highly important for a community. Local talent is a rare gift which should be natured and encourage to grow hence support the local fashion industry is very important for the prosperity of a nation.
"WE CAN SUPPORT EACH OTHER AND GROW AN INDUSTRY WITHOUT IT BECOMING SOME CHARITABLE CAUSE OR GLOBAL PITY PARTY."
1. We sell unique innovative fashion
One of the core values at Kamanga Wear is authenticity. When you buy a shirt made in China, you don’t know the full story. You can’t ask the maker, and many times, you can’t even ask a big company about the history of your clothes. But locally made fashion is accessible and can give customers the transparency that the fashion industry desperately needs. All our garments have a name and a particular journey to the showroom that is completely unique to the Kamanga Wear brand.
2. You are supporting real empowerment not charity
We work closely with our sister company Xstina Creations to manufacture high quality, desirable ethical fashion products for other labels, while simultaneously empowering micro-artisans through access to gainful employment, knowledge and skills. This business model marks a radical departure from previous development interventions with the informal sector as we facilitate a direct link with the fashion industry. For the first time, micro-artisans can operate as an integral part of the international value chain because the production of fashion goods responds to market demand. We are demonstrating that we can support each other and grow an industry without it becoming some charitable cause or a global pity party. By owning it we are creating our own narrative and avoiding stereotypes of the typical Zambian enterprise. We are showing we can build up an industry based on our aesthetics through market demand and supply. Rather than wait for a multinational corporation to swoop in and do it their way.
3. You can help build communities
Kamanga Wear often drum-up custom by participating in events, from the Zambia Art and Design Show to Pop -Up shops at local shopping malls and markets. If the businesses are not supported, the local groups tend to disappear too. Markets can have community value, as there is often a social purpose to stalls – they can be public spaces as well as retail outlets.
4. You might get a better deal or some good advice
As a local independent retailer, we have the opportunity to really get to know our customers. Our team are able to share their knowledge of body shapes and style. So that we can recommend the best products to meet our real-life Zambian customer needs.
5. It encourages entrepreneurship and creativity
To create a viable fashion brand requires finding and working with professional models, graphic designers, stylists, accountants you name it. The personal interactions between other professionals, designers, manufacturers and customers allows for curiosity, exploration and learning something new. At Kamanga Wear we firmly believe in collaboration with other designers. We have so many enquiries from designers wanting to learn at Kamanga Wear that we have developed an internship program. If the local demand is there, we would be able to add many new designers and give them opportunities to showcase their talent.
6. Creation of jobs and poverty reduction
Most of us know that shopping locally is good for the economy because more of your Kwacha stays in the community. The Kamanga Wear brand has created jobs directly and in close collaboration with its sister manufacturing company Xstina Creations. Supporting local manufacturing sustains (and can even create!) jobs. Supporting local Zambian industries and creating employment—be it tailoring workshops, fabric sellers, sales staff, and so on. This collaboration creates much-needed employment for local Zambians, with the benefits extending to entire communities. The multiplier effect on education, financial independence and even health is unbelievable. Supporting local Zambian fashion enables communities to support their local designers as well which adds to the economic situation of any economy.
7. We represent the local community and culture
Fashion is a form of a statement for a nation. It showcases the interests and values of a nation worldwide. Establishing the local fashion sense and promoting it internationally enables a nation to display it's diversity in the foreign markets. Many people purchase the fashion labels of other countries out of interest hence it is very important to build a local fashion statement before taking it to the international markets.
You can get in touch with Kamanga Wear via
Tel: +260 978 567333