By Nathaniel Gondo
The Zimbabwean creative industry has witnessed rapid growth over the past three years, thanks to visionaries who understand the importance of self expression. The outliers are taking it a step further, and forming collectives that transcend different art forms, in a bid to appeal to diverse niches. This is what Usher Nyambi, founder and creative director of Samora Central, is trying to achieve.
This is not Nyambi’s first creative endeavor, it is rather yet another feather in his cap. The acclaimed journalist has written for esteemed publications like GQ, OkayAfrica and Southern African Times, covering stories of creatives from all over Africa.
Him venturing into fashion was an inevitable eventuality, and what better way to start than by paying homage to the city that inspired him — Harare. Samora Central’s first collection is aptly titled ‘The Dreamers Canvas Collection’, an ode to the city which brought Nyambi’s dreams to life. For Nyambi, this collection is more of a gift to his city and his people. He explains, “This is our first release, and I wouldn’t exactly call it a collection. It is something we have given the people that are part of the community of Samora Central — true supporters, readers, patriots and the people who consume information at a rapid speed.”
The Dreamers Canvas collection comprises of a stunning denim jacket, a cozy tote bag and the main attraction; a t-shirt that comes in two colorways — green and black.
Green symbolizes the earth, nature and the people in the city. Black represents the architecture or the spaces that people operate in.
The collection was inspired by another art form — photography. The muse is a photography series titled ‘My City on Noir’, released on 25 January 2023, which features Harare in monochrome — a refreshing perspective. It depicts the city from a structural point of view, a concept that is usually reserved for first world cities.
Nyambi narrates, “The t-shirt was inspired by the recent photography collection titled ‘My City on Noir.’ It’s a photography series where the city was depicted in monochrome, and we look at the buildings around town and the architecture. I wanted to portray the rawness of Harare CBD, how you see New York, Los Angeles or Paris being portrayed.”
The back will surely draw the people’s attention, with a stunning monochrome of The Parkade on Samora Machel Avenue. The picture is taken from the ‘My City on Noir’ collection, and was also part of an exhibition held on 4 August at Pikicha Gallery. “This picture also appeared in the City Life Resilient Exhibition in partnership with Samora Central and Unpublished Africa,” says Nyambi.
The front is minimalistic. It features the Samora Central logo, designed by Tashinga Madzamba. It is a snippet of the Harare skyline, adorned with a flurry of birds. The logo in itself tells a story about the city — the architecture and the life.
“Harare architecture is very interesting! One day we actually have to go out and explore it,” adds Nyambi.
The talented creative hopes the t-shirt inspires a feeling of pride amongst Harareans, almost the same feeling that football fans have when they don their favorite team’s jersey.
“We wanted it to be something like a football jersey. When you wear your Arsenal, Chelsea or Dembare jersey you wear it with pride. This is the same way we want you to feel with the Samora Central t-shirt, you know that you belong to the collective of the city,” declares Nyambi.
The collection is completed by a snazzy denim jacket, plastered with the Samora Central logo at the back, in orange. The tote bag matches perfectly with the t-shirt, as it features the image of The Parkade.
To define Samora Central as merely a fashion brand is to understate Nyambi’s vision. The core philosophy of Samora Central is that it’s a coalescing of creatives from across the invisible yet ubiquitous divide of North Samora and South Samora. It is a meeting point for creative expression, regardless of which side of the city you hail from. Thus, fashion is just one of the plenty means to that end. Expect Samora Central events, films, compilation albums and exhibitions in the near future.
“We are not really a fashion brand, but an ideology of the creativity of the North and South all meeting at Samora Central. Samora Central is not a fashion brand but we are currently exploring creative expression through fashion in this current project. In the future we might get into other forms of expression — film, writing, music, events and so on,” explains Nyambi.
In a country still reeling from the after-effects of colonialism, the concept of Samora Central couldn’t have come at a better time. We stand to move further and faster as a city if we bring together the resources of the North and the resourcefulness of the South to create a better lived reality for everyone. Samora Central becomes a bridge towards that reality, by means of creative expression.
Nyambi concludes, “A city is made up of all different individuals that’s why you find our communication message is really city and community driven, because North and South Samora unite through Samora Central. The best of North and South coming together.”
What better way to launch the debut collection than with a set of stunning pictures right by The Parkade. There’s also an impressive video to match, something to catch the algorithm’s attention, because this collection already caught our attention. You can take a look at the impressive media by Samora Central on their Instagram.