The cultural fashion industry in Rwanda is on the move.
Celestin Ntawirema, a man who has been at the helm of promoting Rwandan culture through fashion is optimistic that the future of the local fashion industry is bright. Ntawirema is the chief executive officer of Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show (RCFS), established in 2013 with the aim of promoting cultural fashion.
He has worked with talented designers, both on the local and international scene to boost growth of the cultural fashion industry in Rwanda.
Ntawirema says that collaborating with designers locally and internationally has helped in sharing skills and experiences.
Today, cultural material such as backcloth is being used in weddings, and local artistes like Mani Martin and Urban Boys, among others, have expressed their desire for the contemporary fashion designs.
"It is a sign that there has been good reception of our cultural creations and this is all thanks to our hard work.
"We can still be stylish and modern in our own designs even when we dress up in what people call off," says Ntawirema.
Ntawirema admitted that there is an improvement in cultural fashion in the country, compared to when he had just started.
"At fashion shows, looking at people who wear locally made clothes versus clothes from abroad and designers who have come on board, there has been growth and acceptance of fashion generally in the country," he adds.
He added that his recent trips to the US made him realise the importance of learning from people, who are experienced in fashion and organising fashion shows.
He explained that through attending different fashion shows and meeting different people abroad, he has been able to learn event management skills, as well as being creative on how to push this business to the front as this will help his brand grow.
Ntawirema has taken Rwanda Cultural Fashion show to different parts of Kigali. He says his objective is to expand his brand as well as inspire new designers and models in the industry.
He seeks to see Rwanda's cultural designs compete globally, although he points out the need for our own fabrics from which the country can be identified with, just as we are familiar with Ghana's inkara and other fabrics from Italy and China.
His efforts have also been boosted by other stake holders. Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and other organisations like Red Rock actively support the annual Rwanda Cultural Fashion show.