I Wear My Culture launches Look Book Gilmore Tee

Mthabisi Tshuma, [email protected]

I WEAR MY CULTURE has launched a Look Book, featuring a photo collection showcasing 10 Zimbabwean tribal groups, along with representations from Irish and Scottish cultures.

The 60-paged look book captures the unique stories of the groups in pictures, with the 12 young designers’ contemporary interpretations of the different cultures, since 2022.

The lookbook gives an insight into the origins of the tribal groups and narratives by the young designers. Photography is by internationally acclaimed UK-based photographer – Val Juma, an advocate for Afro-Futurism, tribal and Afro fantasy aesthetics. The hardcopies are now available and can be ordered from the Paper Bag Africa website.

I Wear My Culture is a research project by Gilmore Qhawe Khumalo (Gilmore Tee), which used fashion and film to document the decorative ways, colours used, motifs, symbols, artefacts and sustainable fashion of 10 unique ethnic groups from Zimbabwe and 2 UK ethnic groups.

The project which zoned into the Tonga, Nambya, Shona, Xhosa, Shangani, Ndebele, Venda, Kalanga, Khoisan, Sotho, Irish and Scottish, had 12 young fashion designers travelling to their designated tribal groups rural settings where they learnt about the groups, in turn using the knowledge gained to create 2 contemporary garments each, inspired by their findings.

Gilmore Tee

22 contemporary garments were produced from the project which kicked off in 2022, with a now award-winning 65-minute documentary filmed by Prosper Kunyetu and Creative Mice Films and an award-winning fashion film directed by Gilmore Tee, being the outcome of this initiative.

Zimbabwean Historian – Pathisa Nyathi and UK Fashion Heritage Designer – Dorota Stumpf, were pivotal in this research in terms of helping share knowledge and skills with the young designers, before they went on-site for primary research and constructing garments.

Said Gilmore Tee: “This Look Book features pictures of the contemporary interpreted garments by the young designers, photographed by internationally acclaimed UK Based photographer – Valentine Juma (Val Juma), who helped in the next stage of the project which is archiving the elements used to create garments and the garments themselves through photography. Val Juma is a passionate advocate for Afrofuturism, tribal and Afro-fantasy aesthetics. Armed with a Nikon Z6ii, Val travels globally, capturing breathtaking photography and video footage in diverse locations, including Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, England, Scotland, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean.

“This book is necessary for archiving, which a huge part of a research project. We managed to archive through the documentary, fashion film and now through this book which has been nothing but a joy to produce. This look book is dedicated to the beautiful, warm & dynamic people of the Tonga, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sotho, Nambya, Xhosa, Kalanga, Khoisan and Venda groups in Zimbabwe. Throughout our journey in learning more about each one of you, we were received with so much love, made family across Zimbabwe, unlearnt a lot of stereotypes and above all, realised how much love you all carry. Thank you for opening your homes to us. We are because you are,” said Gilmore Tee.

The capturing of the pictures and stories featured in this book was a collaboration that involved models, makeup artists, artisans, resource persons and creatives, supported by the British Council, Paper Bag Africa, Val Juma Photography and Gilmore Tee. – @mthabisi_mthire





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