By Nathaniel Gondo
The first two years of a child’s life are a time of rapid growth and development. They are learning new things every day, and their brains are developing at an incredible rate. As Zimbabwean fashion brand Guided Youth turns two, its founders are looking at it from the same perspective—it’s their ‘growing baby’.
The brand is a brainchild of Loft Clothing Co, a company founded by Sanders Mutsimba, Ngaatendwe Mapako, and Kingstone Zimunya.
Guided Youth uses fashion and art as a medium of social awareness. They commemorated their second anniversary on August 16, 2023, and to usher in the beginning of a new era for the brand, they released the campaign for their FW23 capsule collection titled ‘Deserved Kindness’. The video is an apt summary of what the brand stands for, what the ‘Deserved Kindness’ Collection represents, and the position they have taken up in Zimbabwean streetwear fashion.
The video features a range of characters across different creative endeavours, whilst wearing the Deserved Kindness’ capsule collection. The collection comprises of a graphic t-shirt, a puffer suit, and a bucket hat.
These ‘Guided Youth’ are truly everywhere; grinding, creating, trying, growing and debating. Featured endeavors include makeup artists, dancers, rappers, music producers, nail techs, hairdressers, and even skateboarders.
The captivating voiceover is delivered by performer Griffin Makwiramiti, who uses strong and evocative language that is likely to capture viewers’ attention.
The word ‘guided’ suggests that the urban youth in the video are being supported and encouraged on their journey, while the word ‘deserved’ implies that they have earned acclaim and respect for their hard work and determination. The word ‘kindness’ conveys the message of compassion and understanding, while the words ‘hustle’ and ‘grind’ suggest the hard work and perseverance that the urban youth are putting in.
To bring the video to life, they collaborated with 3rd World Chronicles, a creative imprint founded by Three Letterz (real name Don Mandima).
Three Letterz credits a chance meeting with one of the founders as the spark that led to the collaboration. He explains “I bumped into Kingstone one Saturday at NRVANA Labs (VI The Law’s music studio). In fact, I was supposed to meet with him the week prior, but our schedules didn’t align so it fell through.”
The chance meeting proved to be perfect timing, and all Three Letterz was left to do is bring the concept they had discussed to life. “After this chance meeting, he explained to me the idea he had for the new collection they wanted to drop. He also showed me the samples he made. On my end, all I did was to amplify the existing ideas and actualize them.”
Ngaatendwe Mapako, the Lead Designer of Guided Youth, described the video as a reminder to Zimbabwean youth for them to work hard for what they deserve, but also be kind to others. This is the key to achieving success in a time of instability. The video is also a veiled answer to the absence of the brand, having last released a collection in FW22.
“Deserved Kindness translates to ‘work for your blessings.’ What’s behind that is a response to the whereabouts of Guided Youth in a time of instability, and while the answers to that will might be a work in progress. Simply put, one has to work for what they deserve, as they equally deserve the fruits of their labour. It’s like a double-statement,” explains Ngaatendwe.
Sanders Mutsimba, Guided Youth’s Creative Director, further elaborates “It just talks about what we call reverse grace. It’s our appreciation of the hustlers and entrepreneurs who are putting in the work. Grace is God just giving it to you without putting in effort, but when you start to put in the work now. When you reap what you sow, that is Deserved Kindness, and it was a winter collection to warm up the hustlers before summer comes.”
Three Letterz gave positive feedback on working with Guided Youth. He was surprised to learn about their new collection, but he was drawn in by the organic creativity shown. Three Letterz believes that all ideas are borrowed, and he is open to exploring new ideas as a way to cultivate his own creativity.
“It was very organic. I didn’t know they were working on a new collection, it’s kind of hit me by surprise. However, I love organic creativity, it is free flowing. It grants me the flexibility to explore ideas in real time, knowing there isn’t pressure if the idea doesn’t stick. I’ll just move onto the next stream of idea that floats towards my subconscious. After all, none of these ideas are either ours or original, but that’s a topic for another day,” states Three Letterz.
In just two years, Guided Youth has released over five collections that focused on issues affecting today’s youth. They have dropped pieces ranging from t-shirts to tote bags to jackets and even umbrellas Their first collection, released in August 2021, was the ten-piece ‘Statement Series’; t-shirts printed with bold statements talking of body positivity, mental health, black pride, indigenous support and climate change. The collection was well-received, and it formed the foundation for Guided Youth to be the social awareness brand it is today.
Mutsimba describes the experience as a rollercoaster, and credits the unity among the Loft team and love for their craft as being key to their survival. As for the hiatus, the Creative Director blames a ‘creator’s block’ that had beset the team due to conflicting personal endeavours, but the team is determined to find their way back to their creative spark.
“We are united, surfing and young. All I can say is we haven’t felt the urge to make designs like we do this quarter,” says Mutsimba.
Mapako adds that Guided Youth, by its nature, has always done things their own way, and this is reflected in their approach and designs. He says “As of progress and pace, our approach has always been to move at our pace so I think we’re right on track.”
Mutsimba testifies of the challenges faced by most brands and designers in the fashion industry. This hasn’t deterred the Loft team from continuing on their path and they are confident that they will eventually achieve their vision.
“It’s a competitive industry, people are not about to just buy your merch and understand your vision, however we move. We are still growing, learning and improving,” declares Mutsimba. As for SS23, the Creative Director says Guided Youth is working on a collaboration that will take the fashion scene by storm.
“We are working on a summer collab that you should keep an eye for on our socials. We won’t say much for now, but we are going to illuminate this summer with love and religion,” says Mutsimba.
You can watch the Deserved Kindness video below: