Having spent some time in Gaborone over the past few years, my impression was that it had the conservative feel of a small town rather than the experimental styles you see in bigger cities. Gabs is small with a population of less than 250 000 people, compared with neighbouring Harare's 1.5 million or Joburg's 3.6 million. There's a common joke that there are more cattle in Botswana than there are people- so in the world of fashion Botswana gets easily dwarfed by fashion powerhouses such as Nigeria and South Africa. So when I came across Batswana style blogger The Khoi Fro on Instagram I was pretty excited that she was from Gabs and that her style was so bold. Twenty-six year old Tsholo Dikobe is actually a choreographer, but the big dream is to become an editor like Anna Wintour.
"I've never studied fashion. I think my love for fashion emerged through my dancing, working with Botswana's top hip hop artists like K-Bos. We all love to look the part when we perform on stage."
So what do we need to know about the Botswana fashion scene?
The Botswana fashion industry used to be quite conservative but it isn't scared anymore, it doesn't see limitations but possibilities. It's still in its infancy but the designers are learning and evolving but there are still problems around concrete sources of authentic fabric manufacturers. I always make sure I attend the two most recognised fashion weeks in Botswana- Gaborone Fashion Weekend (where I also worked as stylist) and Colour in the Desert fashion week. We need to think more outside of the box though- and focus more on the business side of fashion rather than fashion just for entertainment.
Who are the movers and shakers?
My favourite Batswana designers at the moment are Mpho Kuaho, Black Trash, Koketso Chiepe, Aobakwe Molosiwa, Botho Chalebgwa, Lebang Setso and accessory designers such as Neo Motseise African Lace, Boitshoko Kebakile, Sino Ragontse and Buhle Nguni. There are also some great fashion blogs out here like Tshepo Kutjwe, Uyapo Ketogetswe, Ngozi Chukura and cool websites such as Petra Rolinec's 8tiesbaby.
What are your Gaborone love/hates?
The atmosphere is great- the people here are very friendly and its a peaceful country/city with ambitious youth. We have a concept here called "Botho". You earn respect by first giving it! Our unity and democracy are also close to my heart. It does get too hot here though- I swear the sun is just right below our roof tops! Also, I wish the youth were more interested in issues affecting them such as home issues, education, politics or choosing the right career.
What are the best places in Gabs to:
Shop Local...Botswana Craft is an option. Also, city open and flea markets in (main mall ). We don't have much of a shopping culture but there are more malls being built at the moment.
Eat... For me its more about the type of food than the place but the best place to grab munch has to be airport junction or Masa CBD. Europa, Capello, Ribs and Rumps, Cappicciono's,Mug and Bean, Sanitas restaurant, News Cafe, Primi Piatti, Fego Cafe, Savuti grill, Mokolodi Restaurant, Panarottis' are also some of the best places to eat here.
Dance... This has to be boulevourd Phakalane and for a more hippy place- President Hotel for kosher nights.
Watch the sun go down...Gaborone dam and Notwane. Breath-taking.
If The Khoi Fro is anything to go by, sounds like the Gabs fashion scene is heating up! Let us know what you think of the Batswana fashion industry or The Khoi Fro's style. We're certainly inspired!
Author: Kiran Yoliswa is the Co-Founder of Styled By Africa.