Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


February 21st, 2012

GloRia WavaMunno – ‘Fist Pump’ – Exclusive Designer INTERVIEW

 Who is this young African woman who has taken us hostage with collections like ‘Love’, ‘A-Freak-A’ and ‘Not A Dream, My Soul Mate’? Her name is Gloria Wavamunno, a whimsical yet deeply focused 21st century fashion designer, who revealed to Africa Fashion Guide that her current passionate pursuit is global acknowledgement. Even as she made this declaration, there was a sense that this petit lady could take over the world, if she so decided!

Gloria Wavamunno is no new upcoming fashion designer! She has established herself as not only a Ugandan designer, but as an international designer, showcasing at, but not limited to, Africa Fashion Week- South Africa, London Fashion Week and Africa Fashion Week New York. She has featured on the coveted cover of Arise Magazine and has been interviewed by the likes of Haute Fashion Africa and Africa Fashion Guide.Ms Wavamunno also features in the book ‘Fashion Africa’ by Jacqueline Shaw, Founder/ Director of Africa Fashion Guide. So clearly, Gloria is no stranger to the African fashion world.

GloRia WavaMunno – image copyright – Martin Kharumwa

The vibrant atmosphere of Café Javas in Gloria’s hometown, Kampala, Uganda, is where AFG sat down to chat with the designer. Over a Chai Latte and Banana Cake, she shares that “it’s the freedom element” of fashion that captivates her. She is fascinated by the notion that in fashion, “the whole world can be mixed into one product!” Wavamunno’s reversible leather and Kitenge jacket is an absolute materialization of this notion and epitomizes her elegant creativity.

GloRia WavaMunno – image copyright – Martin Kharumwa

Gloria gives an example of waves, sunshine and movement as elements which, to her, represent romance. These elements, she says, could be translated into a garment which might cause it’s wearer to feel romantic and beautiful. She says that being able to create “whatever is in your mind” is liberating and very important for the health of one’s psyche.

Currently, Wavamunno is working on a new line of ‘asexual’ clothing for women. She says that she is attempting to develop a concept of women wearing men’s clothing, only more fitted, to outline the natural silhouette of a woman’s body. Gloria tells AFG, “I like the fact that a woman could be so attractive and comfortable in her sexuality, while wearing a well tailored and fitted garment, without giving too much away.” A woman could actually look sexy even with her body covered up, because the silhouette of the garment outlines her natural curves and shape. It’s all about the fit!

This collection, which has a title yet undecided, Gloria says, might be called ‘Fist Pump’, ‘Fist’ or simply ‘Pump’. Wavamunno says that the title expresses an attitude which conveys the message ‘take that!’ Some elements of this collection pay homage to her other home, London. Imagine a fairy-like, magical, London punk theme. Then add to that, earth tones, blues, blacks and tree printed kitenge! Gloria stops to share that she has recently been dreaming of trees and coincidentally found some tree printed kitenge on her fabric road in Kampala. She laughs that she bought every bit of that fabric just incase the print was discontinued.

This anticipated possibility of discontinued fabric, incidentally, ties in nicely with what we would discuss next.

GloRia WavaMunno

We speak briefly about Ms Wavamunno’s views on sustainable fashion and its impact on the continent of Africa. She remembers while growing up, purchasing as many pieces of clothing as possible, especially for school, whenever she travelled outside of Uganda. She reminisces of times in Uganda when good quality clothing was difficult to come by and only the privileged could access them.

This is the root of her great appreciation for the growth of the fashion industry in Africa. She says that sustainable fashion now plays a natural role in the lives of Africans as they are now able to manufacture their own clothing of good quality. This, she continues, will only grow from strength to strength so long as Africa continues to produce and sell.

Gloria expresses concern that the second hand clothing industry is proving a threat to the local manufacturing industry, as second hand clothing are far more affordable than those locally produced. As a designer based in Uganda, Wavamunno is unequivocally affected by this second hand clothing phenomena.

She shares that creating a system which relates to the environment and social responsibility, that can be indefinitely supported, would cause African economies to grow in many different sectors. Trade among African nations in locally produced textiles, clothing and raw materials like cotton, would definitely increase. Gloria expresses the sentiment that “we’re all fighting for the same things”, referring to development and financial independence. She continues, “we can work together to accomplish our goals.”

During our chat Ms Wavamunno takes sips of her Chai Latte and seems quite thoughtful and involved in our conversation. It is quite evident that this young woman is deeply connected with the African fashion industry, which, on many levels, has contributed to her current level of international acclaim

GloRia WavaMunno – image copyright – Martin Kharumwa

As beautiful and coveted as a GloRia WavaMunno garment might be, its journey from conception to materialization is not always hiccup free! Gloria shares some of the challenges she and other African designers face as they strive to compete on an international scale. Ms Wavamunno acquired a first class education from a London university in Fashion and Marketing. Due to her training, she is able to produce clothing up to internationally acceptable standards. However, most African designers have not been able to acquire such an education. Gloria believes that there is a shortage of this type of training, especially in pattern cutting, basic sewing and garment construction. She laments on how much of a challenge it is to come across skilled tailors and dressmakers in Uganda. She says that someone might be a great designer, but if their garments are not up to the world quality standards, they would not be able to sell internationally.

Education, she says, plays a vital role in the quality of a designer’s finished pieces. “There are schools (in Africa) which claim to be fashion schools, which are not providing the education which they claim they will give.” Gloria continues, “Something basic like stitching a straight line should be mastered before attempting to construct an entire garment!” Many experienced designers in this neck of the woods are yet to master this skill.

As we shift to much lighter matters, we ask Gloria if she ever looks at past pieces and asks ‘what was I thinking!’ With a chuckle she responds, “my first, second and third collections!” She says that those collections did not represent the authentic GloRia WavaMunno. She is frank enough to admit that she has grown since those collections. Although they were true expressions in their season, she believes that she is only now beginning to see her bona fide individuality in her pieces. She adds that she sees beauty in all of her work (past and present) and conveys that “we should preserve the things which make us smile”. This said, she takes a sip of her tea.

GloRia WavaMunno – image copyright – Martin Kharumwa

As I sit across the table from our featured designer, I cannot help but feel an unexplainable joy and hope. Wavamunno wears a blue denim shirt and from her neck hangs a stunning gold chain with a dangling crucifix pendant. She says that the crucifix is a gift from a loved one. “I am not a religious person” she adds, “but I do love beautiful things.” Gloria Wavamunno may not be religious, but she is certainly a spiritual woman. She mentions that she loves looking into people’s eyes. Smiling, she says “They (eyes) are so pretty.” Gloria continues, “Taking a few minutes to be sensitive, if you see sadness in someone’s eyes, could mean the world to that person.” She mentions British fashion designer, John Galliano and the reported depression which plagues his life. All of this in the wake of designer Alexander McQueen’s tragic suicide, gives merit to her view that “sometimes we just need to go into a quiet zone “, in order to avoid depression.

So, what does this former Ozwald Boateng protégé do while in her quiet zone? She does what many of us do! She listens to music, watches films and shows like TedTalks and wait for it…she enjoys political discussions! Ok, so we get the music for relaxation, but political discussions?! Indeed!! Gloria says that learning new things relaxes her! Go figure! Clearly, there is more to Ms Wavamunno than meets the eye, and we love that about her. She believes that “everyone can teach you something.”

In brief, Gloria Wavamunno is undeniably a multi-dimensional young woman who is quite mellow and modest. She feels blessed to be able to make a living doing something which she likes and which brings great freedom (financial and psychological) to her life. She told AFG that she would like to be known as a great artist and as someone who is ‘free’ and without unnecessary hang-ups. As Natasha Bedingfield’s song says, “Cut these strings and let me go! I’m weightless.” The sky is definitely the limit for this artist and the GloRia WavaMunno brand. AFG wishes her all success and looks forward to witnessing her inevitable ascent to the pinnacle of the international fashion industry.

Photography – copyright – Martin Kharumwa 

Author: Margaux Wong



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One Comment

  1. Simba

    Well written article. It’s nice to know that we have raw african talents in the fashion Industry.

    I encourage Gloria and all these other creative minds to carry on shining in their fields and producing excelent garments that truly represent Africa.

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