SNEAK PEEK:Tafadzwa Kachiko
FASHION designer, Rukudzo Sarupinda (RS), attended the African Women Designers Week in Mozambique last month. Sarupinda, who launched her Kuxy Creation label in 2014 and won the Best Art Award at the Shero Awards in 2018, speaks to NewsDay (ND) Life & Style correspondent Tafadzwa Kachiko on her work.
ND: Can you share with us your experience at the African Women Designers Week held in Mozambique.
RS: I had a wonderful experience meeting fellow African designers. It was good rubbing shoulders with one of Mozambique’s best designers, Salima Bassar, and Nigerian Peace Oskum.
ND: What did you learn that you think can benefit the local fashion industry?
RS: I learnt the essence of teaming up as designers and empowering others who are struggling to step up.
ND: Where else outside Zimbabwe have you showcased your work?
RS: I have also showcased at the Africa London Fashion Week in the United Kingdom, ZIMFEST in the United States and the Soweto Fashion Week in South Africa.
ND: How do you get to participate at such international events?
RS: I usually apply online when a call is made and if selected I get contacted. In some instances I just get invites to participate at certain shows without having applied.
ND: Do you participate at local exhibitions?
RS: Yes, I do, but it has been long since I took part at a local platform.
ND: Do you think locally there are enough platforms for designers to showcase their talents?
RS: No, there are not enough. More platforms should be created by the government, promoters and fashion houses like Edgars and Truworths.
ND: How did you become a designer? Did you go to a school of designing?
RS: I never went to a school of designing. It would suffice to say I was born a designer. I started designing in 1992 while in primary school. Back then, I used to make Christmas decorations from empty packets of Chompkins chips for my friends. I then started professional designing in 2000 and I attained a Diploma in Fine Arts at the Harare Polytechnic in 2002.
I was awarded the Best Fine Arts student during our graduation ceremony.
ND: How did that shape your career?
RS: Although it is a fashion designing qualification it improved my creativity.
ND: How has it been in the fashion industry since you started? And how is the prevailing economic environment affecting you?
RS: This has been a tough journey, especially because of the ups and downs that have characterised our economy for the past decades. It’s quite sad that the meltdown of the economy continues to cripple the local fashion industry. The clients are dropping because instead of buying clothes much of their income is now channelled towards groceries for their upkeep.
They are preferring food more than clothes.
ND: What is your favourite part about being a designer and what makes you unique?
RS: The ability to create. I love creative work. I am a trendsetter. I don’t copy other people’s designs.
ND: Who is your role model locally and internationally?
RS: Joyce Chimanye of the Zuva clothing label. I appreciate her designs.
ND: Who is behind your success as a designer?
RS: My parents and family. They stand by me through thick and thin. My parents supported me since they discovered that I was talented in designing. At times, my mum sponsors me financially.
ND: What contributions have you made towards the development of the industry?
RS: I am so proud that besides working with models, I have been able to impart designing skills to many aspiring designers through my own initiative, Kuxy Creations School of Fashion Design. I focus much on practicals than theory and to learn at the school you need to pay US$100 per month. I also take attachés, especially from Harare Polytechnic.
ND: To what extent do second-hand clothes on the market affect your business?
RS: I often do not get affected, but it’s usually a norm that when the economy is not performing well, people prefer secondhand clothes. I design different types of clothes, so despite the existence of secondhand clothes, I am content with the performance of my label.
ND: What else occupies your time besides designing?
RS: I choose to spend my time with my family having fun, mostly with my kids. I’m a mother of three. Since I work six days a week, I devote the spare time to cement my relations with the kids.
ND: Where do you see the local fashion industry in the next five years?
RS: If designers continue with an attitude of not respecting originality, we will remain static as an industry. Lack of creativity and stealing other designers’ work and making them your own won’t take us anywhere. That needs to be addressed for the industry to grow.
ND: What advice would you give to emerging designers, who hope to achieve greatness in the industry?
RS: Keep focused on your dream. Never lose hope.