5 mins with Melinda Wavamunno Press Director of Kampala Fashion week
Never afraid to undertake a creative challenge , Kampala Fashion Week KFW seeks to promote fashion and the arts in the midst of provoking change and pushing creative boundaries. Which explains why every year there is a new theme and venue which provides context and a lens through which to experience #KFW. The theme for the upcoming 6th edition of Kampala Fashion Week is ‘Temple’ and the location is Yamasen Commercial space, a place created collaboratively by Japanese and Ugandan architects in the suburban area of Muyenga.
Founded by Ugandan Art director Gloria Wavamunno, KFW aims to promote Ugandan designers and fashion designers from around the continent. Partnering once again with resident New York fashion week and New York based LDJ productions there will be over 22 designer collection showcases and a #KFWshrinemarket retail experience.
SA Fashion handbook caught up with Melinda Wavamunno, Press Director of Kampala Fashion Week to find out more.
How did your involvement with KFW come about?
Art Director and Founder of KFW Gloria Wavamunno is my sister, so I have always ‘helped out’. It reached a natural progression where my PR support here and there led to me managing the department and eventually become PR Director of the organization.
How would you describe KFW as an event and platform?
A lot of people don’t actually know that KFW is an organization, built to grow and support fashion and the arts at large in Uganda. We aren’t just a fashion show – our year long pre-production process involves weaving a tapestry. Every artistic thread in our event, from theme concept, venue, music, models, set design, food is intentionally created to ‘perform’ an experience that we often hear feels very different than other fashion shows. As a platform, our creativity and excellent production gives African designers an opportunity to showcase their work from within Africa with great visibility both regionally and internationally. The same opportunities go for our models, many of whom started out on our runway, having successful careers in Uganda and beyond.
What’s the story behind KFW?
This year KFW received a record number of designer and model casting applications, many of whom have never showcased at our level, and when they aren’t accepted the general response is ” I’ll try again next year” because it’s not just about the talent, it’s about setting a professional bar of high quality and hard work. Which is in fact is a big part of our brand vision. Through partnership with The Paper Fig Foundation, our production team, LDJ, comprised of revered and respected fashion industry professionals, serve as mentors, graciously training and teaching our team a range of skills that aren’t available in courses and schools here. And this is combined with regional training projects that have multifaceted development opportunities for women in rural communities through skill building.
Whats the best and worst part of what you do in this role?
The best part of KFW for me is walking around after a night of showcases and seeing peoples reactions, seeing people inspired, entertained and excited about what we have been working on for the best part of a year. Its an amazing feeling to have even witnessed a tear or two, and honestly it is so rewarding to give people an unexpected experience. The worst part of being PR director is the forced attachment to my phone- most especially two weeks till we open doors. No matter how well I schedule my time, I hold a hot device for 14 days and there isn’t much I can do to change it.
What are some of the key highlights for this year?
Our venue is different every year, and this year our location space is a collaboration of Japanese and Ugandan architects and materials providing a holistic (and perfect) backdrop to the #KFWTEMPLE theme. Each theme has it own rhythm, purpose and vision and our key team members, Gloria Wavamunno, Edward Sempa and myself are a bunch of explorative, risk taking perfectionists. So I guess we like to keep ourselves and our audience anticipating the new.
What does it take personally and professionally to pull off a successful event year on year?
Prayer. Meditation. Hydration!! And of course, strong relationships between us and with the people we work with. We work hard and respect people who grind with us when it is and isn’t easy, when the spotlight isn’t shining, these relationships and partnerships keep us going and hold us strong.
How has Fashion PR changed over the years, given the digital age and what’s the impact on your platform?
We always try to tell our story in our own way to our audience. We aren’t a number jumping sort of brand – we want genuine engagement with people who are interested in KFW, fashion and art. Obviously things change, when we started Instagram wasn’t as popular in Africa as it is now, everything was Facebook at the time, but we pivot and keep it moving so long as we stick to a strong visual direction. Our team is small, but our head of Videography, Casey Lugada works quick on his toes and brings a lot of knowledge about visuals for socials. And deals with my pedantic adjustments. Our photography team, Alim Karmali & Giulio Molfese are exemplary talents, they make us look good always. We don’t have a focus of being the most popular, but we want to be clean, sharp and ahead of the curve.
Quick facts #KFW2019:
There will be 3 days of designer shows.
KFW seminars which are free attend, invite industry relevant speakers to motivate, inspire and teach participants.
KFW shrine market will take place on 28 September 2019.
From a former airport to a railway last year, each year KFW selects a new venue to canvas a unique experience , from set design to designers that will enhance the overall fashion experience.
Model selection is representative of diversity and inclusion.
Designer selection is subject to quality, artistry, workshop capability, and brand PR.
Follow Melinda Wavamunno @smartgirlafrica
Melinda Wavamunno is a Strategy Consultant, Writer and Marketing professional based in Kampala, Uganda who has lived in the UK, South Africa, and the US. Nothing gives me more pleasure than making a mark in my city, so it is, so I try.