Zero waste clothing designs took over the catwalk at Tanzania's annual Stara Fashion Show this year, with an eco-friendliness theme across the board.
The sixth edition, held in Dar es Salaam at the end of last month, saw more than 50 experienced and upcoming designers showcase their designs on the runway for two days. Their common aim was to inspire enthusiasts to create an environmentally mindful fashion industry in Tanzania.
Women clothes designers took the lead on the first day, followed by their male counterparts who displayed kanzu designs among others on the second day.
“Waste does not have to become trash” was the catchphrase as examples abounded of leftover clothing materials being recycled and old designs given new touches to produce something new. Some designers used newspapers and other materials that are usually discarded like shangazi kaja, which means "the aunt has arrived" in Kiswahili, referring to previously used fabrics.
Barke Jamal, founder of the Batwella collection in Zanzibar, said this year's edition served as a wake-up call of sorts for Tanzania's clothing industry.
"As designers, we occasionally fail because of old habits that tend to die hard. Going forward, there is an increasing need on our part to make it a priority to protect the environment in our designing choices," Mr Jamal said.
Another local designer, Fatma Mohamed, impressed with her array of shangazi kaja outfits made according to the eco-fashion theme.
“I had to come up with something creative and different for this year's catwalk," she said. "There was this dress that I first designed and wore two years ago. I have since reused the material and sewn new designs each year since then. Now I have made it into a jumpsuit. Most of my designs are from used fabrics. I have not used any new fabrics in a long time."
Baraka Adam of B K B Designs came up with a rather unique set of clothes using the "recycle, reuse and reduce" mantra. One of his new designs had newspaper and plastic bottle materials on the front of the attire.
He explained: "We used real newspapers, not just newspaper materials. We had to first dress the model by using stretched lace on the inside. Then we used staples to hold down the newspapers from the waist and create a belt for the dress to flow. After making the belt, we added more and stapled them on.
“I used the newspapers, starting from the waist down, to seal the lace that was inside. The vuvuzela, which was at the bottom of the jumpsuit, was sewn inside. Across the chest, I used plastic bottles to create the theme of zero waste, and I covered the back with newspaper. The turban matches the newspaper's colour."
This year's show, geared towards creating mainstream fashion out of modest wear, also featured a straight-off-the-runway sale, in which all the outfits showcased were for sale at a 20 per cent discount.
The event sought to promote the production of more "Made in Tanzania" quality clothing for both men and women.
Stara Fashion founder Asmah Makau said the event was "a big platform for already famous upcoming and completely new designers to display their talents."
"We believe this year's show has fulfilled our business expectations and purposes. We have been running advocacy campaigns each year through fashion, and we challenge designers to design as per the given theme to offer a joint stand on issues. This year we sought to create more public awareness on global warming," Ms Makau said.
"Given the fashion industry’s popularity in Tanzania, we thought it would be wise to use our platform to help spur the kind of societal changes that we all want to see,” she added.
The award for Best Exhibitor went to upcoming designer Kulwa Mkwandule and Susu Collection won the Best Bridal Collection prize. AB Designer and Irada Style won the female and male Designer of the Year awards respectively.
The award for Outstanding Creativity Design for females was shared between Bahati Mtondoo, Fatuma Hamisi and Ria Ferdinandes, and Baraka Adam of B K B Designs won the same in the male category.