Fashion is one of those art forms so powerful that it encompasses culture, the environment and self-identity. Clothing grounds us in our notions of self and works to cue others to our chosen identity narrative. What we wear is thus both an exercise in our creative individual autonomy and a system of social surveillance and categorisation. No fashion brand in Botswana has managed to cater to this generation’s need for individual expression like Glotto has.
For the uninitiated, Glotto is Botswana’s most visible youth fashion brand today. The signature earth toned designs have dominated social media influencer feeds and youth pop culture since 2015. Walk through the streets of Gaborone today and you’re likely to see someone wearing a Glotto statement T-shirt just as you are likely to see a fashion editorial online styled in Glotto garments.
Mboko Basiami is the creative director behind the ongoing fascinating fashion movement. In the past six years, each Glotto collection has successfully harnessed the essence of Botswana’s culture from a youthful and creative lense. The recently launched Autumn Winter 2021 collection is no exception.
“With this collection, we sought inspiration from the natural protective adaptations found in Botswana’s fauna and flora,” Basiami said in an interview. “Being a brand in a semi-desert country, the prickly pear or motoroko is a usual sight with its prickly thorns that form as a natural protection from predators. We chose a wall of prickly plants as our backdrop to symbolise the layer of garments that we have for this winter season.”
Botswana’s national animal makes an appearance in the new collection with a signature puffer jacket that adorns the zebra’s outstanding stripes. While introducing new designs and prints, the brand has also maintained its classic aesthetic of deep earth tones and love for texture with a range of corduroy and velvet pieces, including unisex corduroy bootleg pants.
Basiami is clear about the way she works. “I love Botswana’s heritage and the habitual and borderline ritualistic underpinnings of our culture,”she said. “I am interested in our journey for independence and control within the greater limitations of prescribed social constraints. One of the pieces that I am proud of this session is our Glotto AW’21 patchwork jacket. An authentic handcrafted collector’s piece which incorporates our love for sand hues, it is an ode to the classic ‘malome jacket.’ I just know this jacket will pass down generations as an heirloom.”
Social media is not just a fascinating loophole in the laws of fame and success. It also provides a strange sort of reassurance – that young voices can make themselves heard. Glotto has successfully captured the attention of online consumers with a dedicated hashtag #GlottoGlow, which Basiami attributes to the brand’s loyal supporters that she refers to as Glotto Gids. “Glotto Gids are the brand’s foundation,” she said. “We are one big family connected through the love of Glotto.”
Good artists tend to note whatever troubles their community, which may include the rumbles of vacant bellies. It is often argued that the revolution has been overly televised, leading to today’s generation constantly being asked, “What’s your struggle?” “What are you doing?” If Glotto is anything to go by, today’s youth are working hard to create a global legacy for not only themselves but for their country as well.