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Moshions: A Made-In-Rwanda Story

For local fashion house, Moshions, 2018 was a year for going places, literally or otherwise.

As the year wound to a close in December, the Made-In-Rwanda-leaning fashion house unveiled its new location in Kiyovu, next to the Impact Hub. 

It was a glitzy and glamorous evening that attracted a motley crowd consisting of Moshions’ dedicated clients and friends, and officials from government, NGOs, and the diplomatic corps. 

For many, including Moses Turahirwa, the proprietor of Moshions, the move from the old site in Gikondo was long overdue. And for a fashion line that was launched only in 2015, with a single tailor, this was a big milestone. At the new location, the Moshions team comprises 16 staffers. 

“We had always been looking for a new location. The former site was not so easy to locate because it was off-road. You couldn’t find us if you didn’t already know about Moshions. Our new location is more accessible to our target market,” Turahirwa explains. 

One of the night’s major highlights was the unveiling of a partnership between the fashion house, and the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The partnership saw an auction of Ubumuntu (humanity) kits from the memorial. One kit, with male accessories contained a pin, bow tie, and a pair of socks, while the female kit contained a pin, scarf, and neck piece. 

According to Turahirwa, the contents were chosen to celebrate style and give back to humanity, with proceeds from the sales to be ploughed into the memorial’s peace building projects. 

Apart from the main store in Kiyovu, Moshions has also spread its wings with fashion outlets at the Kigali Cultural Village, Go Kigali Boutique, and at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Gift Shop

Spreading wings through partnerships

The partnership with the Kigali Genocide Memorial is just one among several that the fashion house has embraced to enhance the brand’s visibility and reach. 

The partnership started a long time ago, in 2016, when the Kigali Genocide Memorial contracted Moshions to design its staff uniforms, as well those for staffers at memorial gift shop. 

“Then I started supplying some of my products to the gift shop, mostly hand-painted T-shirts and jackets and cardigans with the national colors of Rwanda. I also did the interior for the gift shop,” Turahirwa reveals:

“They (Kigali Genocide Memorial) are among the institutions that trusted my creativity at a very early stage. It’s a partnership that started a long time ago, and that I want to keep leveraging.”

At the official launch of the Onomo Hotel in Kigali in November last year, Moshions collaborated with another local fashion house, Inzuki Designs to stage a joint Made-In-Rwanda fashion show for the hotel’s guests. 

Moshions x Inzuki Designs

 The same year 2018, Moshions partnered with Ifele, a South African shoe brand to produce footwear for one of Moshion’s collections.

“We co-designed the sandals to have a touch of imigongo,” Turahirwa reveals. Presently, he is collaborating with Slay Africa, a continental accessories brand in making socks. “I designed some socks and they produced them for me, and they are on sale in our stores.” 

This year, the focus will be on establishing a footprint of the Moshions brand in the East African region.

“We are looking at expanding our sales points within the East African region. Already we are working with Diana Opoti from Kenya and are looking at partnerships with other labels and stockists.”

With three exhibitions in Nairobi, a nomination in the Swahili Fashion Week (also in Kenya), a string of fashion shows in Tanzania and an appearance at the Abryanz Style And Fashion Awards in Uganda in 2015, Turahirwa believes it is just the beginning in the journey to regional glory.  

“By 2020 we intend to own our own store in one of the East African countries.”

Started at University

Turahirwa is a graduate of Water and Sanitation Engineering from IPRC –Kigali. It is while at IPRC that he was bitten by the fashion bug. From his room, with just pen and paper, he started sketching designs that tickled his fancy on a day-to-day basis. He would sketch a shirt and have it tailored for himself, but soon the shirts started attracting attention, with others asking for the same.  

“I would make a similar design for them, and take it to a tailor in town.”

While still at university, he launched his first collection of eight pieces at the Kigali Fashion Week 2015, a move that would prove to be a game changer. 

To stand out from the pack of designers, he used stretching wool and leather as opposed to the dominant kitengi patterns. 

Then the orders started trickling in. Leveraging the power of social media to enhance visibility for his brand, Turahirwa was soon going places. 

“I’ve used social media a lot and it has really helped me. It’s free, and so I used to just post my work to capture people’s attention. I used to engage photographers who would take photos for me for free and post them online.”

In fact, it is to social media that Moshions owes its huge client base in the Rwandan diaspora. 

The Moshions brand appeals especially to Rwandans living abroad, diplomats and foreigners living in Rwanda because of its unique signature – the umwitero and imigongo patterns. Umwitero is traditional Rwandan clothing used by the royals from as far back as the 16th century, while imigongo patterns are a common adornment on local handcrafts. 

All photo credits: Chris Schwagga 

As a direct beneficiary of the Made-In-Rwanda campaign, Turahirwa has only words of endearment for the government-led initiative:

“Made-In-Rwanda campaign is a good initiative of the government that has given a big push for anyone who is making things locally. The government’s major contribution is in pushing the public to understand that locally made can also be good and worth spending their money on. Be it in fashion, or any other sector. There are different trainings and exhibitions that are organized by the government, and through these exhibitions we gain visibility and get to talk to people about our brands and about what we are doing.”

See More: Motions: Made-In-Rwanda to the World

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