Q: What was the inspiration behind this Fall/Winter 2022 collection?
A: The inspiration really came from a deep yearning to celebrate life through dress; a desire to see feminine grandeur in the workplace. We seek that by embracing 20th Century traditional ideas of women’s business professional wear and bringing them to the now. You will see 1970s and ’80s influences coming out in the collection.
Q: How many garments make up the collection?
A: This isn’t a collection per se. It’s more of an edit. A collection presents an idea of an entire wardrobe as a designer’s complete thought of what would be perfect for a season using their repertoire. A wardrobe edit, in this case, works with the assumption that one would already have their basic items. Therefore, we are sprucing up the wardrobe with a couple of statement pieces – pieces that would go with the majority of garments you would have already in your wardrobe.
Q: So it is something informed by insight. What’s in this edit?
A: Yes. Customers no longer purchase whole collections. Instead, they would rather get a few statement pieces to complement the assortment they already have. During these unprecedented times, you find that it’s a cost effective way of building a more personal wardrobe.
In this edit, we have our iconic sunset mural full wrap skirt. The skirt takes its inspiration from a Setswana cultural staple, the ‘Basadibotlhe’ skirt, which is adorned for many Tswana cultural ceremonies. The skirt features two side pockets and seamlessly wraps around the high waist to create a cinched waist and accentuated hips. We also introduced two blouses, the flirty Georges France blouse with a romantic ruff cuff and the Kurta Fleurette – a reimagined take on the masculine tuxedo shirt.
Q: That sounds rather exciting. What is your design process?
A: My design process often starts with music and channelling a mood. I find music often provides for a great soundtrack when you have very little to stimulate the senses. My current environment often leaves me with a yearning for more. Other times I’ll see something and fall in love with it. Sometimes I would explore an idea, break it apart, and then build it back up again. For example, with the sunset mural skirt, I fell in love with the fabric before anything, whereas with the blouses, they were the product of a mood – the zeitgeist (spirit of the times).
Q: Which item from this edit was the most exciting for you to develop, and why?
A: All the garments undergo their own unique process, but I think the skirt stood out for me. I remember during the fittings we really got technical about how we layer the tulle to create structure but without creating bulk.
Q: This is you bringing techniques from different worlds of creation. Your work ranges across ready-to-wear and bespoke garments. How do you weave in your signature into your offerings?
A: The idea of a signature or repertoire takes time to develop and takes even longer for your clients/customers to see and embrace. As you said, we do both ready-to-wear and bespoke, even though they are worlds apart in terms of their treatment and design process. As we evolve with the times, only then can one be fully cognisant of one’s repertoire and signature.
Q: In your mind, what is the defining feature of a Kanyo M client?
A: A Kanyo M client is confident in who they are and always rises to the occasion in the most elegant and sophisticated of ways. The garment is not sought after to compensate but to complement and elevate. A Kanyo M client knows that without them the garment doesn’t come to life. There is something empowering about that. I always think of what I do as a contribution to the art of living – whether you are celebrating a milestone or simply embracing a new day.
Q: When we look at the change in fashion consumption since the onset of the pandemic, how would you say it has played out in Botswana?
A: It sort of drew back in but there is a reason why. Human nature has proved this time and time again that in the face of adversity, self-preservation is most preferred. People didn’t consume fashion as much. It wasn’t the priority; staying alive was. Only now are we seeing people making a full return to the outside – this being travel and similar experiences where people get to interact in a holistic manner befitting a soulful being.
Q: And of course, this means then that the means of expression are expanding again. So, some of the usual and unusual suspects are coming out to play now. What have been the most valuable lessons for you in being in the business of fashion?
A: In the context of Botswana, fashion is often undermined. Upon realising that, you start getting the sense that what you do is not of importance and will never be. Yet it is on the level of societal development. We, in the present, are defining an age, a time and a spirit. Being in this industry has taught me patience. I have to have it on my side every day. On a global scale, fashion has taught me that in order for one to truly enjoy the art of living, one must learn to evolve. Personal growth – mental, spiritual, physical and emotional – should always be a priority.
Q: What are some of the challenges facing fashion creators in Botswana in particular? Do you have any ideas of how to overcome them?
A: Lack of structure within the industry. Our industry still remains flat with a high concentration within one part of the chain and very little done to resolve the lack of activity in other parts of the chain. I think we ran after the idea of wanting to be in prime retail positions without first developing the fashion value chain within our confines. Our priority should have been establishing a textile industry because this creates a domino effect into other areas as far as fashion is concerned.
The fashion industry is much bigger than we have been exposed to in Botswana. It’s no use focusing on only one area of it and neglecting the others. Access to funding is another one. The fashion industry is quite complex in the way it operates and often lenders shy away from investing. Most I’ve encountered have a shallow understanding of how it operates, and that presents its own sets of problems.
Q: According to Vogue Business, “hosting a show at New York Fashion Week can cost anywhere from $125,000 to upwards of $300,000 — not including the price of samples”. One looks at what Dolce & Gabbana just did with their Alta Sartoria Fall/Winter Collection in Marzamemi, Sicily, and thinks they could afford all the custom-made lights, bejewelled harnesses and masks, and paying the models from just making sales. But that’s not true at all. I don’t want to pre-empt anything, but would you care to share with our readers what you have in store for them as the summer rolls in?
A: Flowers bloom in the spring. However, the extent to which they do, one only has to experience it to be able to speak of its magnificence. I hope I didn’t give too much away.