Renowned model, actress, and fashion icon Naomi Campbell has pledged to work with the local fashion industry in an aim to get them onto a globally competitive platform.
The New Times’ Collins Mwai interviewed Campbell who was in the country for the 15th Gorilla naming ceremony, Kwita Izina where she was one of the namers of the 25 baby gorillas. Her intervention would among other things see her use her years of experience to enable local designers to penetrate the international market.
She held her initial meeting with a group of designers on Saturday evening. Among brands present included Moshions, Inzuki, Haute Baso, and SM of Sonia Mugabo among others.
Below are excerpts:
With years of experience and insight working with fashion brands across the world, what would you say are the prerequisites of the emerging fashion industry, relevant locally and globally competitive?
That is why I am meeting local designers. I want to know what their strengths are and what I can do to push it forward and bring Rwandans to where they should be. I want to help them get the platform and recognition they should.
In your intervention, what are the opportunities for new entrants in an industry that has long been dominated by a few brands from the developed world? What can local designers do to be relevant enough to seize such opportunities?
There is an opportunity, fashion is not to be discriminated, fashion turns around and it evolves. Right now is our time and African designers need to get their platform too and this is what I would like to make sure happens. This is what I should push and get them where they should be.
Any chances that there will be interventions in the form of close collaboration with stakeholders in the industry from across the world?
We are going to let people know that they need to create opportunities because it has to evolve. They need to share and teach skills so that people can keep learning. Gucci Group, for instance, has already come in and said that they want to give scholarships across the continent.
This is my first time in Rwanda but it’s clear for me what I need to do.
We are starting, we have to start somewhere. The country has come a long way with incredible leaps and bounds as I have never seen. Everyone is always astounded when they speak about Rwanda.
Is this a one-time thing or a continuous process?
The way I have it is that it has to be ongoing, it's not something that starts and stops so you have to have the right partners.
It’s not too late for anything. Now we are dealing with the designers who deserve a platform. We will come up with a strategy on how to get there. Every country is different. Most importantly is that I will use my experience from the last 33 years to help them be where they should be.
You were here for the 15th Gorilla naming ceremony, what’s your interest and involvement in conservation across the world?
In every country that I have been in Africa and beyond such as Russia and Siberia, I have been involved in conservation and preserving for sustainability. We have worked with governments and people on a conscious level. I have always been very conscious of climate change and sustainability.
What did you make of the event and conservation efforts in Rwanda?
It was magnificent, the people, the love and energy. I look at Rwanda as a model country for many countries in the world, I have never seen such pleasantness, happiness, order and I think the president is doing a fantastic job and I think people are happy. It’s been overwhelming, surprise after surprise.
Across the continent and the world, conservation is yet to become a major focus topic for governments and countries. As an activist, how can the tide be turned?
I am not here to discuss politically what is being done right or wrong, but Rwanda is definitely doing it right and setting a precedent for people to follow. It creates the level of the order of how things ought to be done. What is happening in the Amazon is tragic.