By Nomqhele Sisa Nkomo
When someone leaves Zimbabwe, it is usually with the intention of becoming an eternal diasporan. Very few come back to contribute to the country’s progression, the best they can do is the occasional festive season visit and some remittances here and there.
In this context, Timothy Masuku becomes an exception. He spent a decade in Mauritius, which is where he came up with the idea for Finesse Apparel, a streetwear brand that caught my eye because of its attention to detail and quality.
He has since relocated back to the city which raised him, and is ready to play his part in putting Bulawayo on the map, through Finesse Apparel. Finesse Apparel’s ultimate vision is a Bulawayo where homegrown brands are worn with pride, and local designers are revered in the same way Virgil Abloh or Demna are idolized by fashionheads worldwide.
I had a brief but insightful conversation with Masuku, which gave me a peek into the mind of this patriotic creative genius. Below is the excerpt of our chat. Enjoy!
Who are you?
My name is Timothy Masuku. I am a designer. I lived in Mauritius for ten years and finally
decided to move back to Zimbabwe because home is home. I built a brand and I came back to
bring Bulawayo up with fashion. I launched the brand last year — Finesse Apparel.
Why the name Finesse Apparel ?
We chose the name finesse because it basically means doing everything with a certain delicacy
and skill. It’s the last few strokes an artist will do on a painting or that hundredth practice a
dancer will make to get that split second better. All that tiny concentration on minute details is
what makes things different hence the finesse. But to do such a thing you have to think freely
— hence our tagline. You got to think outside societal norms.
How has the journey been, from where you started to where you are now?
The journey has been insane! This last year, the growth has only been on an upward trajectory,
and we will continue to expand from Bulawayo to Zimbabwe until we go over the borders.
There is so much talent in Bulawayo that is not being recognized and we hope that through
how we move with our collaborators will bring more attention to Bulawayo fashion.
Who have you collaborated with?
We’ve collaborated with a label from Mauritius called Swing, they do eyewear. Locally we’ve
been loved and supported by quite a number of artists and influencers like Indigo Saint, Bhekiwe, Da_Kudu, Stormzw, Blinko, Tana.kka, Shaqueesha_Sarah, Ganyaz to mention but just a few. Special shout out to Ashley Ganyanhewe too. We also have a few other collaborations that are coming up, I’m not at liberty to share with you at the moment.
How supportive has friends and the community been on this journey?
I have no doubt Finesse Apparel is what it is today because of the support from all the people
around it. When a collective group of people want to support you, no negativity can get in the
way and that is amazing.
How do you wish to impact street fashion? And how big of a contribution do you believe you
are making to influence Bulawayo street culture?
Our main goal is to bring attention to Zimbabwean fashion and bring relevance to it the same
way that Amapiano is relevant in Africa and across the world as well. That is how we wish to
impact street fashion. We believe we have made quite the impact already because we were
able to start the brand out of Zimbabwe, and then bring it back to Zimbabwe when everything
was already in motion.
What are your views on the challenges we are facing as a fashion industry in Zimbabwe?
I don’t think we are facing any challenge particularly in Bulawayo, I just think that everyone is
doing the same thing. Everyone is doing what everyone does That’s exactly what finesse stands
for, do it your way. Our marketing is all the same and advertising and everyone is going to
corporate for sponsorship and there is no longer any creativity in our craft anymore. Our stuff is
amazing but when it comes to getting it out there, people take the same approach.
The ultimate finesse that Timothy Masuku has pulled is having been one of the few Zimbabweans who see value in their homeland. Instead of criticising from the outside, he decided to return and contribute positively to the change we all seek. For that, he’s earned my respect, and Finesse Apparel has shot to the top of my ‘Brands to Watch’ list. You can check out and order yourself some Finesse Apparel merch on their Instagram and their online store. They even accept Innbucks!