Zimbabwe’s creatives shine at Eswatini’s Luju Festival

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Zimbabwe creatives at Luju Festival in Eswatini

NATHANIEL GONDO

Saint Danger and Jana Mhlaba proudly represented Zimbabwe at the high-end fashion show, food and music festival which took place on August 4 to 5, 2023.

The Standard Bank Luju Festival is a two-day family-friendly event which is filled with fine music, culinary exploits and high-end fashion. Luju Festival attracts about 7 000 people from different countries in the Southern Africa, and beyond.

Multi-talented creative Saint Danger (real name Dylan Ngoshi) showcased his unique upcycling brand Saint Academy, a runway debut of the Perfora Collection, which he says embodies “transformation or change.”

He acknowledged the Skeyi and Strobo (SS) Fabrik Party for turning his dreams into reality. “It was a dream come true participating at the festival. I want to thank SS Fabrik Party for giving us such an amazing opportunity to do so,” said Saint Danger. The designers’ appearance at the Festival was made possible by the SS Fabrik Party, a mushrooming collective of Zimbabwean creatives.

Jana Mhlaba, founder of J-Sabelo, showcased her Warm Portraits Collection at the Standard Bank Luju Fashion Runway. She said “it was a great experience as I showcased my brand J-Sabelo a 6-look collection by the name of ‘Warm Portals’ inspired by sustainable processing and an expression of inner enlightment.”

The designers’ appearance at the festival was a vindication of the Zimbabwean fashion renaissance, and Southern Africa has been taking notice. “It was so amazing to show other countries that in Zimbabwe we also have fashion minds and we can create great things at large,” adds Saint Danger.

Jana Mhlaba was grateful for the opportunity to meet with fellow creatives from other countries. She said “The showcasing was a great opportunity and experience to interact and be in an environment with designers and industry professionals from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho and of course Eswatini.”
She expressed optimism in Zimbabwe’s fashion industry, citing the emergence of new age creatives over the past few years. “Zimbabwean fashion from my view is rapidly growing as more talent is emerging and being showcased. The rise of creative communities such as the Fabrik Party, encourages the spirit of uplifting one another through collaboration,” said Mhlaba.

Given the chance to return to Luju Festival, Mhlaba says she would gladly take it up. She hopes for a bigger festival that exceeds the slated two days. “The two days, in my opinion, were not enough time for me to build an educated view point regarding the state of other African countries, compared to Zimbabwe on the subject matter of fashion,” adds Mhlaba.

Saint Danger, on the other hand, highlighted the stark reality of Zimbabwean fashion. He blames Zimbabwe’s overall lack of culture for the underdevelopment of the industry. He had this to say, “I think Zimbabwe as a whole, we are a bit behind in terms of fashion and arts. I’m sorry to say this we don’t have a culture here and without culture there is no fashion.”

Saint Danger credits the SS Fabrik Party for being a beacon of hope for young Zimbabwean creatives. He says the collective has given the youth a platform to express themselves through fashion and art.
“Our country is a bit behind, the fashion scene compared to other countries but we are getting there and I give a big shout out to the SS Fabrik Party for being the only collective that allows us as the youth and creatives to showcase and express ourselves through fashion, music and art.”

The SS Fabrik Party will host it’s first ever three-day event dubbed The Fabrikans Convention in October. It will be a departure from the usual one day Fabrik Party that fashion enthusiasts have gotten accustomed to. In preparation for the big event, they have been doing a Fabrik Party Activation Tour across Zimbabwe to educate and connect with young creatives all over Zimbabwe.

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