Fashion + Design > Fashion

May 4, 2022

Eco Fashion Designer Sharon Anena

Susanne Barta

Erinnert ihr euch an Sharon Anena? Coach und Eco Fashion Designer aus Gulu, Uganda? Anfang März präsentierte sie ihre erste Kollektion auf der Northern Uganda Fashion Week. Ihre Brand „Ajura“ hat sie 2020 gegründet, eine nachhaltige und lokale Produktion war ihr von Anfang an sehr wichtig. Beeindruckend, was Sharon in kurzer Zeit auf die Beine gestellt hat. Bei unserem Gespräch vor einem Jahr erzählte sie, dass sie noch nach ihrer „perfect fashion niche“ suche. Ich wollte unbedingt wissen, wo sie heute steht, wie die Kollektion auf der Fashion Week angekommen ist und wohin ihre Eco-Fashion-Reise nun geht. Sharon Anena ajura 2+3 (c) ajuraSharon, your first collection was featured in March at the Northern Uganda Fashion Week. How was the experience?

The organizers asked me if I could be part of the Fashion Week and I agreed. I created about 11 pieces, all made with my Eco print fabrics, mixed with other materials like denim. The Eco print fabrics are made with our own patterns using leaves, flowers and grass of different shapes. For the people this was surprising because they have never seen such clothes. Also, the models were thrilled. They told me how excited they were to work with me. This was a milestone for me, because it’s the first time that my clothes are really getting out there on the runway. The feedback was very good. Also, people came to me and asked me to work with them, especially from the film industry. I didn’t sell at the Fashion Week, but afterwards people came by the shop and bought some clothes.Sharon Anena ajura 4+5 (c) ajuraLast time we talked, it was still your dream to create a collection and you were still looking for your perfect fashion niche…

I think I found my niche; I most likely go in the direction of Streetwear. People love it and I think they also buy it here in Gulu. But with time I will be able to diversify. With the next collection in October, we will come up with recycled Denim, integrating art work, like little drawings by local artists. We collect the used denims, recycle and make something new out of it and put it back on the market.

Last time we talked, you had two seamstresses working for you. Did your team change?

I still maintained the two seamstresses for the production, but a student joined us and I hope she will stay as part of the team. For the next collection I have to include more people, especially artists who do the paintings and drawings.Sharon Anena ajura 6+7 (c) ajuraHow challenging is it to work as a sustainable fashion designer in Gulu?

The biggest challenge we are facing as a brand is still that people understand what it means to wear a brand that is made locally. They are used to international brands. We try to raise awareness to make sure that people embrace fashion brands within the country and also embrace recycling as it is hard to convince people to wear something that someone already wore. If they do this it comes from out of the country not from within. We want to make them understand more about sustainable fashion.Sharon Anena ajura 8+9 (c) ajuraIs there a vibrant fashion scene in Uganda?

The Northern Uganda Fashion Week was the first of its kind in Northern Uganda. It’s an annual fashion events platform aimed at promoting the fashion industry in Northern Uganda. Different designers are coming from different parts of the country, including neighbor countries as well to showcase their work. There is a lot of awareness for fashion in Uganda and people are actually embracing it. But most of it happens in the capital city Kampala. Most of the designers are there. In Northern Uganda it is still challenging because there are few platforms for fashion designers to show their work. So, one has to work hard to get people to know your brand.

Do you want to stay independent or do you also look for investors?

I would like to grow my brand the fastest way possible. With investors things happen quicker and are getting done. Yes, I would be glad to have investors coming on board to push the brand and the vision forward. Because then people here will understand more about what sustainable fashion is. But I haven´t come across investors til now.Sharon Anena ajura 10+11 (c) ajuraSo, your next step is to work on the collection for October?

Exactly. And I also want to collaborate with other fashion designers to integrate pieces/techniques of their work in my collections. For example, a designer who makes clothes out of crochets. I would like to partner with some of them. 

Es wäre ein Traum, sagt Sharon, in Zukunft in einem Geschäft in Europa präsent zu sein, nach Europa liefern möchte sie unbedingt. Für ihre nächste Kollektion wird sie mit Brand Ambassadors zusammenarbeiten und so Schritt für Schritt mehr Sichtbarkeit für ihr Label „Ajura“ aufbauen.Sharon Anena ajura 12+13 (c) ajura

Alle Fotos © Ajura

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