Fashion & Culture E-nterview: RKC – Zambian Fashion Designer (#WinterABC- Day 18)

Hello lovely readers!

Thank you for returning to my blog. If this is your first time here, do feel at home and come by often 🙂

In the past few days, bloggers from across Africa have been engaging in culture and fashion centered conversations. This is in line with the #WinterABC weekly themed challenge by Afrobloggers which has been going on in the month of June.

In today’s blog edition, I am honoured to be virtually joined by an amazing Zambian Fashion Designer- Kabwe Chongo, the talent behind the phenomenal RKC brand.

In this e-dialogue, we converse on all things fashion with a dash of culture. Please do enjoy reading and viewing some of her stunning creations :

… Something that I learned is that fashion and culture dance around each other with people and communities at the center …

-Excerpt from this E-nterview
  1. What does fashion mean to you?
  • Fashion for me has always been a means of expression. There are times that I use fashion to
    quite literally communicate how I was feeling! I had a dress I loved to wear when I felt
    confident, my favorite pajamas when I want to feel comfortable and cozy, you know things like
    that.
  • But on another front, fashion is a means for me to channel creativity and possibility. I like
    being able to look at a concept and to see if I can make it a dress, a print or something!

2. How would you describe your brand in a few words?

  • I like to say that my brand is for women and by women. I have to apologize to everyone that I
    gave he, I will not be doing men’s clothing ever! I want women who work with me to feel like we
    are old friends collaborating on a fun project together, that we are taking this journey in
    creating an experience rather than just “getting a dress made”.

3. How long have you been in the industry?

  • I don’t even think I’m in the industry yet! But I have been working seriously for two years and
    been into fashion since tenth grade.
– Created by RKC

4. Where do you draw your inspiration and motivation as a fashion designer? 

  • I draw my inspiration from a lot of places but mainly from other creators. I have always loved
    design and fashion and seeing the work of other designers always ignites a fire in me.
  • Another source of inspiration is music and visual art. There is something about beautiful music that
    creates a moment and sometimes I’ll be listening to like Beyoncé and I’m thinking “Wow, I can
    see a dress that would be a beautiful moment for this music video.” Or I may be watching a
    movie and monumentally irritated with a style choice because I feel something else would have
    been better.

5. To what extent do you feel culture influences fashion?

  • I took a class last year on this and something that I learned is that fashion and culture dance
    around each other with people and communities at the center. In essence, people’s values and
    customs heavily influence how they will express themselves in their clothing. A great example is
    how we use chitenges in our culture as covering or reserve chitenge garments for certain special
    occasions.
  • People are largely at the root of these expressions and as our culture slowly becomes
    more “modern” we see attitudes towards certain clothing changing because at the center,
    people are changing.
– Created by RKC

6. What are some of the fashion myths you would like to demystify?

  • Oh wow! Firstly, you don’t need to know how to sew to be a fashion designer. A lot of fashion is
    about collaborating with who has the best skills to bring out your vision or idea.
  • Another myth that I would love to fully confront is that fashion is vain or it doesn’t require much thought.
    There are times when one looks at fashion and feels they couldn’t be bothered with trends or
    the like. But I feel it is important to care about how we clothe our bodies, that we pay attention
    to making sure we have clothes that fit us well and make us feel comfortable.
  • Even in our limited choices I feel it is important to choose clothes we look forward to wearing and not just
    buying clothes because we can. I
    feel that fashion needs to be intentional.

7. What are your customer retaining techniques?

  • I pay attention to giving as great a customer experience as I am able to. From a simple greeting, to a
    smile as you serve or a quick apology coupled with amends. They go a long way in keeping
    customers and they form relationships that turn into referrals!
Me, as a happy client clothed in RKC. I recall she did this skirt in record time and I didn’t have to go through the heartaches most tailors/designers put customers through. That’s when I knew I would forever be a client 🙂

8. What are some strengths and weaknesses of the fashion industry from a designer perspective? 

  • I think the fashion industry in Zambia particularly has vast room to grow in terms of diversifying
    what jobs can be done and how much can be made from these jobs. When someone says they
    want to go into fashion most of the time, you think they want to be a tailor but there are so
    many careers out there that one wouldn’t believe! I look at the industry and hope for the day
    that those amazing opportunities will be available here.
  • However, I do think that our industry is amazingly resilient. We may not have the very best equipment or innovation readily available but we are producing wonderful and amazing garments on all levels possible and it is amazing to watch.

9. Any closing remarks?

  • Thank you for taking time out to listen to what I have to say about fashion and I hope to speak
    to you again!
– Created by RKC

To get in touch and view more of the amazing work done by RKC, here is the link to the website: https://msha.ke/rienbykc/


Thank you for reading!

Until next time,

Live on and read on!

Fashion Talk: Sustainable Fashion (#WinterABC- Day 17)

The first time I heard about sustainable fashion (as a concept) was from an amazing Zambian lady and fellow blogger, Taonga Kaonga in her blog post called: “An easy guide to practicing sustainable fashion”. I found it insightful and decided to amplify her voice through this post as well as share my views.

What is sustainable fashion?

Green Dreamers another insightful and reliable resource on sustainable fashion, defines it as, “clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly.” We are living in a time were environmentally friendly practices are no longer a luxury but a NEED. As such, adherence to sustainable fashion practices is everyone’s responsibility.

In her post, Taonga cautioned that:

The production and distribution of the crops, fibres, and garments used in fashion all contribute to environmental pollution, including water, air and soil pollution. Not to mention, many workers producing fast fashion items work under slave-like conditions …

-Excerpt from: An easy guide to practicing sustainable fashion

Green Dreamers further guide that, as the word sustainable entails being able to sustain, sustainable fashion must be one that “operates in ways that can continue working for years and decades to come “.

In a world filled with continuously changing trends, to be sustainable does not only require discipline but soft skills too- which are all very manageable as will be seen below.

How to practice sustainable fashion

Taonga shares the following steps:

  1. Purchase good quality and timeless clothing
  2. Avoid following every trend
  3. Learn simple hand stitching
  4. Buy less and be creative with your clothes
  5. Clothing Swaps
  6. Thrifting

Read more on her blog

I believe most people do not even know that they are actually adhering to sustainable fashion practices. That’s how natural the guides feel. I think all we have to do to bridge the gap from where we are to where we want to be is to be more- intentional.

We also need to move away from certain norms like looking down on thrifting. We also have to be very okay with not being up to date with every and any trend. I like that Taonga speaks to buying less and being creative. It took me a lot to remind myself that I do not need a new outfit for every occasion but I can simply re-work the clothes in my wardrobe.

Do you practice sustainable fashion?


I will soon profile an amazing Zambian Fashion Designer and journey through fashion and cultural dynamics in our dialogue. Excited for this.

Until then,

Live long & read on!