Hailing from the Southern side of Africa, Zimbabwe-born designer Ngugi Vere is a name not to be messed when it comes to African fashion. King Vere, what he is also known as, is what some might call a jack of all trades. He has a creative flair for; styling, image consulting, creative director of fashion shows, fashion event host and artists management.
Currently, he works as the producer of Soweto Fashion Week (SFW) alongside Stephen Manzini, founder of SFW, which will take place 25-28th May (Save the date!). As the creative director for Shona Accra Clothing, he is also set to attend the Kiambu Fashion Week taking place in Nairobi, Kenya on the 5-8th of May 2016.
Some major artists Vere has worked with are Khuli Chana, AKA, and Kanyi Mbau to say the least. MAPP Africa met with King Vere as he prepared for his trip to East Africa, Kenya just to get the 411 of who he is and what his creative fashion empowerment is all about.
Who Is Ngugi Vere?
“I am a Kingdom-minded creative and I believe God's purpose is to teach Africa and Africans the possibilities of how fashion can create wealth in our economies through supporting local retail and designers growth. My principles are "God first " and "Be Bold."
When did you get into the fashion industry and why?
“I started off in the fashion industry 3 years ago even though I didn't know what exactly I would become. I was a university drop out after realising what God’s purpose and passion was, I decided to get into the industry and teach myself until I become really successful."
What inspired you to become a fashion designer/creative?
“God inspires me. He gives me daily doses of unique creativity. My mum has a little to do with it because she was a stylist and loved clothes. At the young age of seven she got me to start dressing and shopping for myself.”
Tell us more about your role in the up and coming Kiambu Fashion Week?
“I was invited to produce the Kiambu Fashion Week in Nairobi, Kenya on the 5-8th of May 2016. And I will be also visiting schools and running creative workshops to empower young creatives. I will also host fashion talks to empower Africa and Africans about "Dressing for Success" and the power of fashion in our struggling economies.”
What would you say inspires your sense of fashion and designs?
“God inspires my sense of style. He shows me amazing authentic ideas every day and all I do is trust him and do it. Hence "Be Bold ". I always want to do better than my previous work and get to the top.”What are some the most memorable moments you feel proud of in your fashion journey?
“I have a lot of memorable moments in my fashion journey because every day is a day to live for in my life filled with creativity, fun and blessings. My most memorable moment is me being selected to film an international reality show, Style Wars in Asia on Fashion One TV. I was the only African. And I have many more when I create concepts for shoots and show coz it's all madness and creative crazy. I love what I do all the time.”
What are some of the challenges you have faced in your fashion journey?
“My biggest challenge was when I was still trying to find my feet in the industry and I couldn’t get an internship. Knocked at every door but no one wanted to take me. I had to teach myself until I became a genius. Challenges are always there but if you are passionate about what to achieve, you can fight and conquer.”How would you describe the role fashion could play positively to the youth?
“Fashion is a big influence to living great and achieving success just like music is. In this fast paced world, fashion has become an important part of our societies and the youth are getting influence from it. There are so many talents out there. If all of these youths get development and supporting structures their lives would change through fashion.
Why fashion to empower Africa?
Fashion can create thousands of jobs if it was really structured well. It can support our economy to be very strong. The government needs to realise the powerful tool of fashion to creating a sound, sane society and growing economy.
If UK can make £36billion in a year and create 797,000 jobs while South Africa makes R3.9billon a year, you ask yourself why we're not as rich the western economies. It's because they understand the power of fashion and how it is a commodity just like the food and beverage industry. It can make money and create employment. If we focus on youth development and designers growth, a lot can change in our socio-economic situation.”What are some of your dreams you would like to achieve?
“I hope to see my brand at NYFW, Milan and Paris. I would also love to meet Puff Diddy, Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo and Kanye West and to try understand their way of thinking and approach to the business of fashion.”What advice would you give to fellow Africans who are seeking to enter the fashion industry as designers, models or creatives?
“My advice is understand your identity and your destiny will be clear. Be Bold and put God first in all things.”