When one hears about local urban wear in Harare, Faith Wear usually springs to mind. It’s a well-established label with its own retail shops in shopping malls such as Joina City and at Avondale and Newlands.
Faith Wear has enjoyed something of a monopoly on the local market but the arrival of several other local labels is starting to give it a run for its money.
First on the scene is Mutupo, which means totem in Shona and a label in slang. Established in 2010, it was inspired by the beauty of history and culture. Its icon is a Shona symbol of unity and power. The icon is found on various traditional artefacts including the headrests known as mutsago/mutsamiro.
Mutupo products include t-shirts, tracksuits and hoodies. Founder Cowden Chikombah says: “We believe that our people are kings, and we are proud of it. In that context, the use of the mutsago as our icon is apt.” Mutupo can be found online and in G24 at Doon Estate, Msasa.
Next up is Tateguru, which means ancestor. This is another label that fuses the traditional with modern urban wear. Its theme natsa kwawabva kwaunoenda husiku, a Shona proverb which can be loosely translated as ‘always be good where you are coming from because you do not know what the future holds,’ has made it popular with young people who prefer to hold on to their tradition in a global village that promotes foreign cultures.
Founder of the label Tungamirai Zimondi says: “Tateguru is much more than a fashion statement, it is a belief system. One that believes in defying gravity and in defining a present and a future harnessed by hard lessons gained from the past.” He said Tateguru is an Afro-centric brand that is looking to bring about a pan African renaissance in terms of clothing because central to identity is clothing – you are what you wear. The brand is soon to be made available at the National Gallery gift shop.
Shy Wear, which is a product of Anthony Umali a.k.a DJ Shy, is another of the clothing lines springing up. It started at the beginning of the year and steers away from traditionally inclined design to offer a more relaxed and contemporary urban feel.
Shy Wear t-shirts are printed with such light-hearted statements as Beer My Valentine and Hold My Beer While I Go Kiss Your Girlfriend.
DJ Shy explains: “My clothing line is being well received on the market but most clothing shops in the city prefer selling imported staff especially from China and Dubai, so Shy Wear opened its first retail shop at East 24.” With over 300 designs, Shy Wear used to be available only during events, music shows and other gatherings as it lacked retail outlets.
Another new label on the scene is Harare Hustler from UK based rapper Terry Gunz, a name adapted from his nickname.
This clothing line is somewhat different however as it is designed and printed in the UK but by a Harare-born star who left the country in pursuit of greener pastures. The label first became popular in 2008 during Zimfest in the UK, after the rapper went on stage wearing a long sleeve t-shirt with the now famous Harare Hustler crown wings logo.
Terry Gunz explains: “The response from people who liked and ordered that particular t-shirt was overwhelming and I ended up registering the brand, which is now quite big internationally.”
Harare Hustler has expanded from just t-shirts to foot wear, head gear and jewellery. Currently the products are being sold online through the Harare Hustler facebook page and through freelance distributors in Canada, Botswana, Australia and Zimbabwe. The label has attracted much love and fondness from homesick Hararians in the diaspora. “I will be selling them on a wider scale in Harare soon, supplying G24 in Msasa and opening up my own retail outlet in the capital.”
Local labels are cheaper compared to imported products of the same quality in design and material. Local t-shirts cost an average of $15 while foreign products average $25.
Picture: BaShupi promotes the Mutopo label.