Fashion is more than just a way of dressing or expressing oneself. It is a powerful medium that can tell stories, shape perspectives, and inspire emotions. That is the vision behind The Plug Apparel’s first release of Spring/Summer 23: The PADEN Tee. A homage to Zimbabwe, the PADEN Tee is a bold statement of identity, pride, and belonging.
PADEN is a street slang term for ‘home’, and that is exactly what Creative Director and founder Panashe Katiwa wanted to evoke with this piece. He says, “What inspired PADEN was, I wanted something that resonated with Zimbabweans. Something that even if you were away from home, when you see this collection, you are reminded that Zimbabwe ndoPADEN, that’s home.”
The PADEN Tee comes in a classic black color, with a striking Sunset Yellow colorway that blends perfectly with some white and black accents. The graphic design is stunning and intricate. The front features the brand logo cleverly hidden within the Zimbabwean map. The brand name is also boldly displayed (in white) on the sleeves.
The back of the tee is a masterpiece of creativity and culture. It features a map of Zimbabwe in the center, with the borders of its ten provinces.
The word ‘PADEN’ is repeated in yellow and white, creating a contrast and a rhythm. The white text on the sides are fascinating facts about Zimbabwe and Africa, showcasing the rich history and diversity of the continent.
The top of the tee has the area code (+263) and the coordinates of Zimbabwe’s location, inviting the viewer to ‘Svika’ (come) to PADEN. The back is completed with a black map of Africa, the cradle of humankind.
Katiwa is a student of popular culture. He studied the street lingo prevalent in the linguistics of our times, and chose a word that is familiar to everyone across all demographics. ‘PADEN’ resonates with people from all walks of life, as it is a common word used by Zimbabweans in their daily conversations.
Katiwa explains, “In this case, I wanted to give that approach using words that an average person in Zimbabwe would know what it means. Of course you have words like ana ‘Wadii’ (Wassup) or ‘Dhiri’ (Deal) but I thought of ‘Paden’ because even elderly people use that lingo so it kind of stuck.”
The Plug Apparel has been a four-year journey for Katiwa, who started off as a passion project for himself. He wanted to wear his own clothing, with his own designs. To his delight, people took an interest in the pieces he had created for himself.
Katiwa adds, “I was like ‘hey, why not turn this into a full-on brand?’ I began designing without a full vision of what exactly I wanted to be long term or what my goals were.”
His first concept was called “Purple Haze”, but it did not quite turn out as he expected. He then went back to the drawing board to formulate a sound strategy, complete with a long-term vision. With a natural-born artistic flair, a crucial learning experience, and an ambitious vision, Katiwa then set out to create pieces using the brand name: The Plug Apparel.
The ‘PADEN’ idea was first conceptualized in 2021, but failed to materialize because of many obstacles. However, delayed is not denied, and the concept has come to life at the perfect time. Katiwa narrates, “The first concept of PADEN was created in 2021, but because of numerous setbacks it was delayed each time. Fortunately, nearly two years down the line, the dream has finally come alive.”
The PADEN Tee is more than just a piece of clothing. It is a celebration of Zimbabwean culture, heritage, and spirit. It is a reminder that no matter where we are in the world, we always have a place to call home: PADEN.