For the renowned Lydia Oile of Nchadinyana Clothing, who is also a member of the local and international traditional music group, Culture Spears, fashion means looking unique and elegant.
She tells BG Style that she grew up with the hidden talent of designing which most of her fans do not know about. It was only last year in October, when the smart designer tried out her talent and all fell into place. She has always created designs for clothes, when she was growing up using plastic bags. She shares that she loves clothes and this has just fuelled her passion as she places herself as a trendsetter.
“When I was eight tears old, I would watch my grandmother sewing clothes and I would also imitate her using plastic bags to make dresses,” said the selfless Oile, also known as Nchadinyana in the music industry. “I grew up with a lot of passion for fashion, to a point that I invested most of my time looking at international trends with a lot of inspiration from celebrity outfits of people like Beyonce Knowles, Rihanna and Ciara to mention a few. I have always known that I have diverse talents when it comes to arts since I am a dancer and a singer, so I knew that one day I will design my own clothes and look stunning in what I have made,” explains Oile.
She explains that she started off by making clothing embellishments, earrings, beads and makgabe. As time went on she added a dungaree and a skirt to her art of fashion. She takes pride in her makgabe design, which she explains that she does in a unique way. “I use twisted wool and accessorize it with an African print to give out that African touch and a modernized finish,” she explains.
Makgabe is one of those clothes females would wear back in the days, and traditional music singers still use them on stage, when they perform. Therefore, as much as Oile aims at penetrating the international market in fashion, she saw it fit to add this item in her designs. Besides making these lovely outfits, she also covers shoes, handbags, caps and hats to give fashion lovers that unique and outstanding look as they dress up for different events.
On the other hand, she paints jeans and emphasizes that she always applies her artistic elements and principles because she was once a teacher of Art at Motsumi Junior Secondary School. She says that her major aim is to attract international artists and dress them in the future. “My aim is to see international artists being captivated by my designs, especially makgabe, so that bigger artists like Beyonce also get attracted to what we produce locally. I want to see myself in Paris or New York just to present my traditional outfit designs or any traditional attire because I believe it is high time we also take pride in what’s ours just by modernizing it to make it fit into the 21st century,” said Oile.
What gives her confidence at the moment is the positive feedback that she is currently receiving. “People really like my work, they often tell me that it’s unique and eye catching and I am impressed by the fact that makgabe order is on high demand as people highlight that they need it for cultural events including Son of the soil and weddings,” Oile said.
Botswana’s shoe designer, 28 year-old Merapelo Manuhwa says that for a long time she has observed that when it comes to the fashion industry in the country, everyone flocks to clothes.
So she decided to give Botswana fashion a feel of something different, which is why she chose shoe making. She has always loved shoes, and her dream was to see someone manufacturing shoes in Botswana and this turned out to be her. “It has not been a long time since I introduced the shoe business in the country, I only started manufacturing in bulk early this year,” explains Manuhwa. Even though the business is new, the feedback has been impressive, so says Manuhwa, as people are always reaching out to her and sharing her work on facebook. She is based in Gaborone in Broadhurst. She designs and makes all kinds of shoes for both men and women as well as school shoes.
Manuhwa tells BG Style that hard work is essential in every road to success, and she also believes in perfection. She enrolled at the School of Shoe Making and Technology in Pretoria, South Africa where she learnt to manufacture shoes of different designs.
“I had to sponsor myself with P29 000 to enroll at the school after I was actually inspired by a friend in Harare, Zimbabwe, who also manufactures shoes. I like manufacturing goods and when the opportunity to go to a school of manufacturing shoes came, I grasped it because I knew that it was something that will not only benefit me but the country at large, in this era of shortage of jobs,” she explained. She emphasizes that as soon as she completed her course in November, she came back home and started practicing what she has learnt.
She is currently working with four employees, and welcomes any investor who wishes to help them to expand the project. “We are only five at the moment because the business is relatively new, and it is my belief that in the future we will employ more people,” she said. This energetic young lady is also the founder of ‘50 ways of making money in Botswana’ facebook page and she says that she believes in being hands on. This is why she also shares ideas with people through this platform. She believes that Batswana are talented but need such motivation to create jobs for themselves.
Manuhwa also tells BG Style that they wish to open a school of Arts and crafts in the future to extend this talent to anyone who wishes to join the industry or learn how to manufacture anything under arts and crafts. They also dream to supply their shoes in shops, as they make a variety of shoes, which provides an option to the consumers. “We make ladies sandals, closed shoes and men’s shoes too; women are very excited especially about their different types of sandals,” she said, adding that they have already started receiving orders from bulk buyers. “Some shops have also started approaching us for our profile and we are working around to submit to them,” she told BG Style.
Pre-historically hourglasses were used to scale time, and as humanity evolved, there were changes and nowadays timepieces are modified to smaller accessories, which include the wristwatch.
A wristwatch is more than an accessory to tell time but also a fashion statement that reflects culture and style, and the wearer’s social status and demographic. Botswana has recently seen the emergence of a bespoke luxury timepiece range to write home about. Nako Timepieces prides itself as an innovative luxury watchmaker brand, which is a combination of dignified craftsmanship best referred to as ‘wearable works of art.’
Founder and director of Nako Timepieces brand, Gabriel Mothibedi tells BG Style that their timepieces provide function and lavish style: a level of sophisticated simplicity. “It is a brand with historical significance that bears Botswana’s heritage on a wrist.” He further explains that Nako Timepieces was founded on the belief that state-of-the-art watch making can be synonymous with the cultural and historical significance of Botswana. “The initial inspiration was to merge historical significance, innovation and luxury watch making that is proudly Botswana. We sought to give Botswana something to point to, a visual vocabulary to tell her story and express her heritage to the world. We have also provided a glimpse of how design driven innovation, as a form of incremental innovation, can become a key alternative economic development strategy,” he says.
According to Mothibedi, Nako expresses in its brand, conception through design and product offerings, emotion and the experience of the African. “The cultural journey of a myriad of ethnicities making Africa is translatable into works of art that can be captured throughout the transcendence of time, into a quality timepiece.”
Mothibedi also says that they took a semantic route of using languages as a cultural aspect hence the name Nako, which means time in Setswana. “Time is all around us: it is a measure of life and experience. The simple observation of the stars and changes in the seasons, day and night, began to come up with primitive means of scaling time, and the brand itself embraces these as they were reflected in activities such as farming and sacred feasts: in the context of Botswana cultural ceremonies. Nako Timepieces embodies the traditional methods of how time was told and embraces the modified version of the time tellers to small convenient wrist accessories.”
The design concept is an intricate and interesting one and Mothibedi explains that contextually, the visual abstraction, a preeminent characteristic of African art, of the manually inscripted brand name buries naturalistic letterforms and an organic visual flow which is symbolic of the abstract nature of African art; specifically the exaggerated figures of animal paintings found in the Tsodilo Hills. “Silhouettes of these animals can be seen on the canvass itself, and a rough canvass texture symbolic of the quart size rock was created. The red colour is symbolic of the red ochre pigment, derived from hematite, which the San people used on some rock paintings of the Tsodilo Hills.”
The watches are designed in Botswana and manufactured in Switzerland, considered the centre of the watch industry. Nako Timepieces is currently sold from the company warehouse. Mothibedi says that the timepieces will soon be available across Botswana, South Africa as well as in London and New York.