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Ugandan Designer Beats The Clock To Challenge Local Fashion Industry

posted 14 Mar 2014, 07:09 by Mpelembe   [ updated 14 Mar 2014, 07:10 ]

A Ugandan fashion designer puts together a dresses in less than five minutes, including taking measurements, cutting and stitching. He says his concept is a unique way to make his mark in a clothing industry where Asian and big time international brands have a firm grip.

SHOWS: KAMPALAUGANDA (REUTERS) - Ugandan designer Latif Madoi offers more than pretty clothes - he offers a pretty amazing show when he puts together dresses in minutes.

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In less than 20 minutes, eight models get measured, the fabric is cut and the pieces stitched together. It is a performance Latif says sets him apart from other designers - and in Uganda, there are plenty.

The result of Latif's speedy creative process, which he calls the Live Clothing Construction Performance, is well-fitting dresses on models walking down a runway at a hotel in the capital, Kampala.

His average speed is 3-4 minutes per piece.

"It is done with formulas... I can't explain that any further but, I mean it includes statistics, formulas applied I mean turning things you know, for example simplifying things. So this is the simplest way you can make a complex dress within a limited time. This whole act involves first of all the material that you use and also the body, because you need to look at the body you are dressing it inspires you a lot to draw an inspiration and create a design that matches, that perfectly suits that body," said Latif.

Some critics have called his designs mediocre but admit the process is quite unique.

The race against time has won the designer much acclaim and he has taken his show on the road - performing at various international events.

He has also designed clothes for Jamaican reggae music star, Busy Signal and the late South african legend, Lucky Dube.

In an industry where so much competition comes from western designs in high demand by a market whose fashion reference is foreign movies and music videos, Latif says his unique process helps him stand out.

"It's really challenging, because first of all the industry is just growing and people still think that the best things come from western world," Latif said

"Whatever came out I was like wow I didn't expect it to come...that was...but it really came out so really perfectly. It was quiet breath taking and really nice. I think I would really love to wear all the 8 dresses that were made. It was just amazing," Shamallah Tyra, spectator.

"The angelic dress I was wearing made me feel like confident, you know and made me feel sexy so it was really nice," Aisha Nakamya, a model.

While Latif has found success at live events, penetrating the local clothes market he admits is a longer process.

Uganda's fashion conscious are inclined to international brands - whether brand new or second hand. Then there are the cheap imports from Asia.

The government has tried in the past to impose a ban on cheap imported second hand clothes to protect the domestic market but it was never enforced.

Fashion critics say that while other African countries like Nigeria and South Africa have created an identity for their clothes internationally, Ugandan designer still need to find originality.

"If I travel to China and I want something from a local designer, it should have the Chinese culture embedded in that, so it could be the material, it could be the design because, that is why I am in China. So with the African brands as well, they have to, the local designers have to have that incorporated in their designs, originality so that when someone actually looks at the item, they feel that it is original, first of all its African its original, and even the quality that does not mean compromising, the finishing is excellent," said Alvin Nsiko, designer-brand dealer.

In an industry where only the outstanding find notoriety, Latif seems to be on the right track with his performances. Some buyers are intrigued by his speed and are curious to see what he does with fabric if given more time.