Zanzibar fashion fete blends culture, arts, and style

Thursday January 20 2022
The Runway Bay

The Runway Bay held its second Zanzibar International Fashion Festival in December. PHOTO | COURTESY


Zanzibar marked the end of 2021 with a bigger and better fashion week that highlighted emerging trends inspired by the island's culture.

The Runway Bay held its second Zanzibar International Fashion Festival from December 26 to 29, despite news of a new variant of the Covid-19 virus.

The fashion fete was part of the Runway Bay Fashion Week and as Irene Isaya of Dar es Salaam described it, “It was different, good and inclusive, having models of all ages on the runway.”

The festival featured runways in several locations around Stone Town, including a large-scale indoor and outdoor fashion show in the Old Fort and at the Forodhani outdoor food court.

The sound of the ebbing sea gave a unique background and the theme of "Utamaduni sio ushamba" (Culture is not backward) celebrated and embraced different communities and the music and arts of the Spice Island.

The four days and nights of the festival were not short on style and entertainment. They were graced by 12 renown fashion designers, local and from Botswana, Eswatini, the US and the UK.


Zanzibar's up-and-coming designers showcased designs made with kanga and other African materials to promote the island's culture to the tourism industry, on which the economy largely hinges.

Waiz Shelukindo, founder of the Runway Bay Fashion Week Festival, said the festival aimed at pushing forward the artistic dialogue between art, dance, music, African culture and creation and create bridges between the disciplines.

“Designers often owe much to those who, although in the shadows, accompany them, like the hairdressers, makeup artists and stylist,’’ he said.