If 2023 was the beginning of the renaissance for Zimbabwean fashion culture, 2024 becomes a year of consolidation. At least that’s what the brands are saying.
Designers, stylists, models and every fashionhead in Zimbabwe delivered the heat last year and took the creative culture to another level. Everything that has happened in the past twelve months has reaffirmed everyone’s hope for a mainstream revival of the industry.
From fashion shows (on tv and on the runway), to art exhibitions, markets, and a booming street style scene, the Zimbabwean fashion came alive in 2023.
In 2024, we are expecting even bigger things, and some brands have already confirmed their plans, release schedules, and vision boards for 2024.
You know Mcheno and More—we love fashion. We just had to go around and gather all the dets for you. We spoke to ten brands shaping Zimbabwean fashion, and got a picture of what they are looking forward to for 2024, whilst reminiscing on 2023.
It was only right that we hear it first from the tastemakers.
Styling some of Zimbabwe’s biggest entertainers was just the icing on the cake. Founder and creative director of African Hippie, Leeroy Jawala, spoke on the growing influence of stylists in the creative industry.
“I think stylists took huge strides in 2023. Artists and directors are now recognizing the importance of having a stylist on set,” he beamed.
African Hippie as a collective got the once in a lifetime opportunity to do creative styling for Nutty O, and they did not disappoint. For his latest offering, The Cornerstone Mixtape, Nutty O collaborated with African Hippie to deliver an aesthetic that resonated with the theme of the music project.
The days of artists wearing fake European designer brands in their music videos are in the rear view.
The stylists had nothing but admiration for the designers, who sometimes serve as collaborators and muses for their work. Drip Psycho had this to say about his counterparts;
“Literally, I think I can say most of the Zimbabwean brands performed well in 2023 because it seems like everyone is doing their research well and is able to come up with some mind-blowing work.
For 2024, Drip Psycho went on to predict the continued rise of SEXSOUNDS AƧYLUM, and added a teaser; “Look forward to THK (The Homeless Kids), which is my brand as well. I believe I will deliver some of the best curation this year.”
Saint Danger added his predictions on the brands to look out for in 2024, saying;
We except to see even more collaboration between stylists and creatives in 2024, and maybe an African Hippie Fashion Film Festival? You never know, the possibilities are endless.
Social activism brand Guided Youth endured a somewhat muted 2023.
However, they displayed brief flashes of brilliance with their FW23 Deserved Kindness capsule, a four-piece collection which consisted of a graphic t-shirt, a puffer suit, and a bucket hat.
Taking the winter momentum into summer, they followed it up by a collaboration with Rozebowl co-founder Jaxx.
This time, it was just one piece dubbed the Let There be Light t-shirt. The t-shirt had a graphic of an antique Hanukkah menorah in the front, and the iconic Guided Youth logo in the back, complete with the statement.
Having built a solid foundation for the brand, Guided Youth’s Creative Director, Sanders Mutsimba believes only one thing is left—consistency.
He said, “Basically, it is the consistency. We are trying to achieve the goal of consistency for 2024. We are trying to see what’s going to happen if we try to be consistent with this thing.”
He continued, “In 2024 we are going to release more collaborations, more pieces, and maybe a collection. I don’t want to say much, but definitely, we are bringing more stuff in 2024.”
2024 might prove to be a watershed year for Guided Youth, especially considering that their three-year anniversary is coming up in August. We’ll be eagerly anticipating their 2024 releases to see whether the old saying that ‘with age comes wisdom’ holds true.
Totem By BethJ
For Beth Jotham—your favourite outfit inspo hun, 2023 was a year of brilliant beginnings and first times.
“It was a rollercoaster year. Challenging sometimes because you have all these ideas in your head, you want to materialise them, and you’re anticipating what the response is going to be like,” she said, as she recounted the launch of her sustainable fashion brand TotemByBethJ.
And indeed, it was Totem that defined her year, earning her the admiration of fellow creatives and taking her to heights that would take most years to achieve.
Reminiscing on her 2023, she said; “It was good honestly. I launched the brand in February and it got positive feedback, and it was now a matter of what else can I do to make it better, relevant, saleable. I really loved and appreciated the positive feedback I got. The criticism as well (laughs). You learn as you go.
“The kind of exposure I got, I appreciate that also. I was able to do collaborations with fellow artists. I also got a tv interview which was amazing”
In 2024, Beth is keen to continue building the Totem brand, and is mindful to not go down the road that most homegrown brands have followed—start off bright and fast, then fizzle out a year or so later.
“For 2024 I want to do more, do better. I want to bring more life to the brand, I don’t want the brand to die down because I’m not moving with the times,” said Beth.
Will that mean a reinvention? Well, sort of.
“Am I still going to do tote bags? Yes. Is there going to be a total turnaround of the brand? I’m promising that,” shared the fashionista.
She concludes, “There’s a lot to look forward to. I’ve just been brainstorming ideas and trying to see what else I can come up with. I do not believe that fashion is boring, if we’re going to save the environment, let’s do it one tote bag at a time, and in a fashionable way.”
Beth has the unique combination of an unmatched fashion sense, a noble cause(she’s trying to save the environment guys), and a niched content curation that has made her a beloved social media personality. These have become key ingredients to creative superstardom in our times, and 2024 might just be Beth’s year.
He only blitzed onto the scene in October, but Ray Enders and his avant garde brand EER Fashion have already gotten themselves into the conversation of brands to look out for.
The 18 year old managed to grab the attention of the industry with the debut of his BROCKEN HOUSEHOLDS collection at the 2023 Fabrikans Convention. Leeroy Jawala had this to say about Ray’s showcase;
“Ray Enders had my favourite show of the year. It was the perfect marriage between great tailoring and out-of-this-world storytelling. During the show, you could feel that you were witnessing something special. It was that good, and the avant-garde pieces were to die for.”
South Africa based photographer Eugene Ulman posted on his Instagram that;“
While many young Zimbabwean creatives like to project an image of success and achievement, the work of designer Ray Enders tackles trauma and psychological turmoil head-on. Aged 18, he was the youngest designer featured in the most recent edition of The Fabrik Party, Harare’s sporadic underground/alternative culture event that represents this city at its best.”
Ray Enders let his 2024 plans slip in a previous interview with Mcheno and More. He revealed, “Well, the brand has now been breathed life into and you can expect more emoting and tear-jerking work. I am already working on my next collection prematurely named FORBIDDEN FRUIT,”
Judging from some snippets he has been sharing on his social media, the young genius aims to outdo his initial effort.
With the FORBIDDEN FRUIT expected to release any time soon, just expect the unexpected—true avant-garde. We are in for a treat, and we are anticipating it
If Ray Enders is Zimbabwean Avant Garde’s Most Outstanding Rookie, then Saint Danger is the Most Valuable Player.
Over the years, the supercreative’s profile has grown in leaps and bounds, and his showcase at the 2023 edition of Luju Festival in Eswatini was confirmation of his mastery at avant garde fashion. This was the world’s introduction to his flagship brand called Saint Academy.
Saint Academy followed up on the Eswatini appearance with its SS23 All Saints Collection, which got positive reviews from critics and fashionheads alike. His showcase at the Fabrikans Convention garnered attention beyond the usual fashion circles, further adding to the legend of Saint Danger.
He confirmed the imminent release of Saint Academy’s first collection of 2024, saying; “I’ll be dropping my AW24 Collection soon, something I’m working on with the kids from my neighborhood.”
This promises to be a deep and personal collection from the avant garde maestro, as it takes inspiration from his family upbringing.
“It’s a collection that speaks about how I grew up. With my parents, my father was a painter, and my mom was a tailor, and I will be combining the two together,” he explained.
Considering that the All Saints Collection was never made available for sale, everyone is anticipating some ready-to-wear pieces that they can resonate with, considering Saint Danger will be telling a story of his childhood with this one.
Haus of Stone
A proudly Zimbabwean slow fashion brand which managed to open a showroom and showcase at a continental trade fair surely has to be in the running for ‘Best Performing Brand’ right? Well not necessarily.
That’s according to Creative Director Danayi Madondo, who says’ “Defining ‘best performing’ in Zimbabwe’s fashion landscape is indeed subjective.”
Despite the humility, Haus of Stone’s 2023 served as proof of endless possibilities for Zimbabwean fashion.
“While my brand may not have topped the financial charts last year, I believe it achieved significant milestones that proved, ‘It can be done!’
“We showcased locally and internationally, holding our own against industry legends. These achievements demonstrate the potential for Zimbabwean fashion brands to dream big and achieve notoriety,” explained Danayi Madondo.
Danayi Madondo attributes the underwhelming financial performance of most brands to a combination of the socioeconomic reality of the country and the overwhelming competition that comes from imitations and second-hand clothes. She elaborated;
“In Zimbabwe, fashion often falls under the ‘luxury’ category, with designer prices compared unfairly to tailors, copycats, or cheap retailers. Consumers struggle to grasp the value proposition of a designer who conceptualizes garments from scratch compared to these readily available alternatives.
“This lack of understanding and appreciation for the designer’s role within our community hinders brand growth despite any surrounding hype. Consumers unfortunately often want to shortchange designers and our work.”
Despite these universal challenges, Haus of Stone has endured. This has been mostly due to the sheer longevity of the brand. With her over a decade’s experience in the Zimbabwean creative sector, Danayi Madondo has managed to leverage her network to find sustainable opportunities. She described how the Canex Inter Africa Trade Fair opportunity presented itself;
“Fortunately, the opportunities I experienced this past year were largely fruits of years of prior work. Things finally aligned, and I found myself presented with platforms like Canex at the perfect moment.
“My selection came unexpectedly – the British Council included me among 23 other African designers, and I was the chosen one. So, I believe it was a combination of persistent effort and a touch of divine grace that led to this incredible opportunity.”
For 2024, forget everything you’ve seen so far, because Haus of Stone’s bag of tricks is bottomless.
“Come 2024, expect the unexpected from Haus Of Stone. Adaptability is our middle name, and while nuanced fashion narratives will always be our core, we’re ready to morph into anything the creative environment inspires,” concluded Danayi.
“2023 was key in being able to highlight Babwe as a global brand and being able to establish it in a different space.”
This is what Lesley Manokore, founder of Babwe, had to say about a year that culminated in his brand being featured on a billboard at the iconic Time Square in New York.
Regardless of the jetsetting and trendsetting, Babwe remained rooted to its roots—Zimbabwe.
In 2024, Manokore might be relocating, but the focus remains the same. He said, “I plan to continue my journey in 2024, where I will be based in the Middle East and China. I’m hoping to build Babwe into a global beacon that represents Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.”
If Manokore managed to make a mark on the New York streetstyle scene, in 2024 we anticipate Babwe to make an even greater impact as not just a clothing brand, but a brand that promotes and supports pride and identity in our authentic Africanness.
It was an eventful 2023 for Wilfred Mhanda and his streetwear brand StageWorks. “A lot happened in 2023, to name a few, we managed to create more high-quality content than the year before, hosted successful music events, and built our own small community of devoted customers who support Stageworks,” said the young creative.
On top of being connected to the streets and dressing the hottest names in entertainment like KayFLow, Chief Ben and SaintFloew; Mhanda added a feather in his brand’s cap when he got invited to the State House at the request of the First Lady.
He beamed, “Oh, being invited to the State House was a humbling experience that gave me hope for the future of the fashion industry in Zimbabwe.”
As for 2024, expect more than just t-shirts.
“I’m really excited about 2024; the community should anticipate the release of our first winter jacket as well as the 24 T-shirt collection, which will drop first and be followed by the winter jacket of course,” divulged Mhanda.
Well, you better start saving up because StageWorks is here to cater for your entire wardrobe in 2024. What Mhanda was able to do with just a t-shirt lights up our imagination of what he’ll achieve by expanding the scope of his design.
As Leeroy Jawala put it; “These guys are everywhere! You can’t scroll on Instagram for 10 seconds without seeing a boot print, they have worked really hard to make their brand visible.”
Surely, MuchenoAfro was arguably one of the hardest working brands in 2023. The trio styled the creme de la creme of Zimbabwean entertainers such as Bazooker, Holy Ten, Young Gemini, Tha Bees, King 98, and Michael Magz.
They also delivered unparalleled creativity on runways all year round, with the crown jewel being the staggering one hundred pieces they showcased at the Fabrikans Convention.
KwaShingi Designer declared that 2023 was just the tip of the ice berg for the upcycling brand, as they promised to deliver even more surprises in 2024.
“Well, 2024 is packed, I might say, what we did in 2023 was just the beginning. We got a lot in store which I can’t mention one by one but we would like it to be surprises as usual. We are promising fireworks this year,” he said.
For Nobunaga’s imprint SEXƧOUNDS AƧYLUM, everything went according to plan. He was a man on a mission and his vision has manifested right in front of our eyes.
He reminisced, “In 2023, we achieved a whole internal goal which was to establish and to gain market share. We managed to put our name out there and show our work out there and due to that we grew in terms of our revenue and market.”
His triumph at the Pacific Designer’s Marathon catapulted Nobunaga into a household name in Zimbabwean fashion, and 2024 is when the much-anticipated collaboration between Nobunaga and the Pacific Cigarettes Company will be released.
Nobunaga was coy on the exact release date though, saying they will ‘launch soon’, and adding, “like I said details will never be clearly put it out there until it is time.”
Fashionheads can also anticipate releases from the two brands that Nobunaga is involved in, as he promised, “SEXƧOUNDS is also going to have its FW24 collection being released very soon you just have to stay logged in for those details. We also got Mayor Sportwear & Luxury coming through.”
Nobunaga matters because he represents the blueprint for a mutually beneficial intersection of creatives and corporates. We’ll surely be keeping our eyes peeled for what the supercreative will deliver in 2024.
In a country where creative fashion is merely a David facing three Goliaths that are cheap imitations, a depressing economy, and mabhero, the emergence of trailblazing creatives and groundbreaking brands has been a miracle, an anomaly almost.
Through a combination of creativity, collaboration, and sheer passion; Zimbabwean fashion has defied the odds and rose from the ashes. In 2023, creatives worked tirelessly to take fashion from underground to bubbling under.
Rightfully so, 2024 becomes a year of building on the foundation that has already been set. Forget the Goliaths, Zimbabwean brands have the potential to take the industry to dizzying heights, and finally garner the same mainstream appeal that foreign brands have.
As always, your dutiful servant Mcheno And More will be there to document every moment as it happens.
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