This Ugandan designer is upcycling donated garments and promoting them again the place they got here from


Bobby Colade is taking garments which have been donated to African international locations, turning them into new items, and promoting them again, making an attempt to battle the tradition that’s infecting and degrading Ugandan tradition and style. is making an attempt.

Collade advised host Matt Galloway, “For a designer like me, and like my friends, it is vitally troublesome in Uganda to supply clothes that’s aggressive as a result of the second-hand clothes that floods our markets is so are low cost.” the present,

“It is not like we’re importing outdated garments [from] international reply. We now have additionally imported a tradition of over-consumption and a tradition of cheapness.”

Collade is a designer and entrepreneur who’s now making an attempt to reverse that circulation of clothes with a mission referred to as Return to Sender.

Collade says that about 80 p.c of complete clothes gross sales in Uganda are thrown away in rich international locations, the place fast-fashion dominates. In Kampala, the place Koladay lives, a spot referred to as Owino Market is devoted to him. Some clothes available on the market is beneficial, however issues like ski jackets and fleece fits do not actually match the Ugandan climate.

Collade takes clothes that has been shipped to Uganda, and upcycles them into distinctive new items. (Ian Nyanzi/Buzigahill)

“The issues that get despatched right here usually are not essentially the issues we want. So plenty of the time, folks simply adapt,” Collade mentioned.

“I as soon as talked to a salesman at Ovino Market and I used to be telling him, Pay attention, I am unable to purchase this jacket. It is too thick… and he mentioned, you understand, type would not know the climate.”

And whereas Collade admits that the market is a enjoyable place to seek out some hidden gems and offers, it is also fairly damning for the style designers within the nation.

second hand enterprise

When somebody donates clothes in North America, the very best of it goes on sale in an area retailer. Different articles are then bought to 3rd world international locations. Collade mentioned it was useful when garments had been being donated for the primary time to international locations like Uganda within the 80s and early 90s.

“They initially got here in as donations. And there have been factors round city the place folks might really choose up garments. However what occurred shortly was a really worthwhile enterprise,” Collade mentioned.

“Which means that our native industries weren’t in a position to get better from the collapse of the business within the early Seventies.”

Now, many thrift shops and clothes charities in rich international locations promote extra stock globally, which regularly leads to international locations in Africa, he mentioned. This makes it tougher for Collade and different designers to compete financially.

Collade mentioned, “Individuals, the markets right here, they now suppose garments are supposed to be … as low cost as outdated garments. That is what folks have realized.”

Collade says it’s troublesome for style designers in Uganda to promote their garments, as most individuals anticipate garments to be low cost because of the abandonment of clothes from rich international locations. (Ian Nyanzi/Buzigahill)

“So when, as a designer, you give you one thing new and your worth is a bit excessive both means, they will not purchase our garments. Completely not.”

Annamma Pleasure, professor of promoting on the College of British Columbia, says this second-hand system generally is a double-edged sword.

She says that whereas this creates challenges for designers, additionally it is extra sustainable to donate clothes and supply cheaper alternate options for individuals who are struggling to seek out it.

“From the federal government’s perspective, they’re rising the provision of labor. Individuals get employment on this enterprise, so the impression is sweet for the financial system,” Pleasure mentioned.

“Alternatively, they don’t seem to be clothes that’s desired by customers in these international locations. It’s also dearer. Second-hand clothes undercuts the business, and so they’re discontinued.”

return sender

That is the place Collade’s mission, Return to Sender, is available in. Koladay takes garments which have been despatched to Uganda, and places his personal distinctive twist on them. For instance, one among his merchandise is what he calls a four-panel T-shirt. He cuts 4 totally different shirts, and sews them collectively in fascinating methods.

“It is sort of a metaphor for what we’re doing as a result of we’re making an attempt to provide a brand new id to those garments,” Collade mentioned.

then he places them on his web site, and sells them to folks around the globe. The material additionally comes with what known as a colade material passport, which explains the origin of the gadgets used for the piece.

Collade’s designs include every passport that explains the origin of the gadgets used for the piece. (Ian Nyanzi/Buzigahill)

“Hopefully it is a option to talk that with … individuals who see this merchandise of clothes, in order that they ask, ‘You realize, what is that this? The place is it from?’ And the wearer can simply present the passport,” Collade mentioned.

He says he isn’t bothered that individuals donate their garments, and understands that they consider it’s a charitable act, maybe not realizing the bigger implications. As an alternative he hopes folks might help contribute to companies by shopping for again their sustainable creations.

“We’re making an attempt to say, ‘Hey, pay attention, we have been in a position to create one thing enjoyable, one thing new, one thing very inventive and resourceful. We will make small industries right here. See what we have completed together with your waste’ Please purchase it again if you wish to assist the business in our nation,'” Collade mentioned.


Written by Philip Drost. Produced by Benjamin Jamieson.



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