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March 13th, 2012

African Leader Mugabe Fashion Label Raises Questions in Zimbabwe

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Written by: Jacqueline Shaw
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We have been reading about this Mugabe inspired fashion line for a short minute now and it also raises a few questions with us. According to the World Bank, Low income country Zimbabwe is a nation nearly three-fourths of the population lives in poverty, on less than three dollars a day for a family of five and a 2009 life expectancy of 48years. Upon that Mugabe is one of Africa’s oldest leader and in part a Marxist revolutionary and it seems now that to young Zimbabweans he has become a fashion icon as his name is literally splashed across a new clothing line named the after 88-year-old president’s clan name “House of Gushungo “

Featuring a collection of berets, caps, event coffee mugs and t-shirts ranging from $10 to $30. Justin Matenda, 28, is a director of Yedu Nesu, who makes the Mugabe clothing label, and he has big dreams of taking on famous labels like Louis Vutton, Gucci and Paul Smith. Matenda was inspired along with friends to launch this Mugabe’s clothing line because he felt that fashion labels with a local identity was dying.

(image left – Justin Matenda, 28, a director of Yedu Nesu, makers of the Mugabe clothing label, presents on January 27th a jersey bearing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe)

“Each and everyday we are putting on clothes and they have different inscriptions on them. Some Hugo Boss, some Paul Smith, some Giorgio Armani – but it’s quite unfortunate that most people can’t even associate themselves with these people,” he said.

He even wants to take samples of the line to Paris Fashion Week. “He is a revolutionary, he is a cultural icon and we decided, why not honor him,” Justin Matenda, 28, a director of Yedu Nesu, makers of the Mugabe clothing label said.

“This is something that we want to be upheld by so many generations to come. Even if we are not going to be able to take part in this event this year. We are going to take part in the next coming years,” Matenda said. “I am proud to be associated with our president, with his ideologies and they make me who I am right now…This is not political, it is very much apolitical. This is just a fashion label, just like any other label you might think of.”

source: sundaily

This feeling is not supported by all such as human rights campaigner Blessing Vava who feels it is a blatant campaign ploy by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, which is pressing for elections this year. “This is part of the ZANU–PF election campaign to desperately sell their candidate ahead of elections,” Vava said. Matenda disagrees believing that the majority of Zimbabweans will buy the label. Some of the clothing was spotted at Mugabe’s 88th birthday rally in the eastern city of Mutare, but the line has yet to make a big splash on the streets. “I am yet to see the clothes, it is actually news to me,” said a street corner cigarette vendor in Harare.

Mugabe approved the use of his signature for the label although the designers did not meet him in person. Matenda said that Mugabe told them the signature was his but it belonged to the people. The clothing line is the latest in a list of items designed to honor a man idolized by his supporters as a liberation hero and reviled by his foes for his tainted human rights record. In addition to generations of campaign cloth, state radio and television allocate generous airplay to musicians who sing praises for the man who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Matenda said they are planning to brand jackets, shoes, suits, and watches with Mugabe’s signature, with goods manufactured both locally and in Asia. “We have seen that we are holding to a brand that cuts above any other brand,” he said. “I rank it above all the labels one might think of, the Luis Vuittons, the Guccis and the Giorgio Armanis.”

Matenda said Mugabe would receive no royalties.

We at AFG are not so much persuaded. What about you?

Source AFP







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