After a long and busy year, Chikirra Claasen finished off 2012 with a bang by taking part in Mozambique Fashion Week from December 7 to 15 2012.
This was the second time that the talented designer was invited to the Mozambican fashion event, after attending it in 2010. This came after Chakirra's dress for the 2009 M-Net 'Face of Africa' won her a place among the ten young designers from all over Africa who were selected to participate in FIMA, alongside Melanie Harteveld Becker who also represented Namibia.
After submitting her portfolio, Chakirra was selected to take part in the prestigious event, which has become more than a week of fashion, but rather one of the biggest fashion events in Africa, aimed at promoting culture and placing Mozambique in the world of international fashion.
Made up of different platforms, the event featured fashion, art, music, food, education and corporate social responsibility.
Kishwa Designs, says Chakirra, were well received with much interest showed in her work. What is more important however she says, is the amount of contacts she was able to make which she feels will contribute greatly to the Namibian industry.
One of the shows which left an imprint on her was the Pan African Designer Show. "It was epic and the first in fashion history as it was in an operating airport with plains landing and models walking straight onto the runway from a huge aircraft. This challenge was made a success by show producer Anneliese Le-Breton, an amazing and inspiring woman. I also met many remarkable and inspiring designers from all over Africa. We had many great brainstorming sessions so I am sure further collaborations are inevitable," she said.
"Not only does this opportunity allow me to represent my country and my brand, but it allows imperative networking relationships that will help with the development of our own Namibia fashion industry. I am not only passionate about being a designer, but also about the industry as a whole and through these events I learn and gain so much knowledge that I am then able to reinvest in our small but growing industry," says Chakirra.
Even with all these international platforms granted to some of our top designers, Namibian fashion still seems to lag behind and is yet to make its mark on both the African and international fashion stage.
"Because our population is so small and because we are not a producing country we as Namibian designers face many challenges because we do not have a very big market to cater for. Because we don't have factories that produce raw materials, or mass or semi-mass garment production, our prices end up being very high and the average Namibian is therefore not able to afford Namibian designed garments. Most established designers are only able to produce a ready-to-wear collection with the backing of an investor or a financial partner," Chakirra said.
She further adds that designers should nurture their talents and create platforms of international standards for the Namibian industry. Networking with other countries should also be prioritised she says, as it allows designers to gain international exposure.
Chakirra is part of Namibia's sole fashion network, the Pambiili Young Designers (PYD). A voluntary association, PYD's main objective is to create marketing platforms for Namibian design products including fashion, jewellery and accessories.
"Through all the opportunities that have been granted to me I hope to pave a path for my fellow Namibian designers. We need to understand that working together as a team and supporting one another only makes us as a Namibian brand stronger," says Chakirra.