The Journey Begins For South Sudanese Fashion Designer

Winnie Godi, the Founder and Lead Designer at Winnie G Fashions in South Sudan has just started her journey to the international fashion shows after close to four years of fashion designing in South Sudan.

The Journey Begins For South Sudanese Fashion Designer
Winnie Godi

By Jale Richard

JUBA, 22 November 2017 [Gurtong]-
Last week, Winnie was nominated in the Swahili Fashion Week Awards 2017 in the category of East African Designer of the Year alongside fashion designers from the East African region.

She is battling it out with Anita Berly from Uganda, John Kaveke from Kenya, Kaijuka Abbas also from Uganda and Vaishali Morjaria from Kenya. The awards ceremony is scheduled for December 3rd 2017 in Tanzania.

Winnie who designs female, male and children’s clothes also designs accessories. She said it is her passion and the love for art, and color that makes her excel in fashion designing.

Winnie first got her chance to showcase in the international fashion shows when she was invited to the Kigali Fashion week last year. It was from that show that she would improve to get other international invitations to showcase her collections.

After Kigali fashion week, she showcased in Swahili Fashion Week last year, in Nairobi International Fashion Week, and then Accra Fashion Week in Ghana last month.

“It was by surprise…nominations are always by surprise,” she told Gurtong about her nominations. “It is the biggest show in East and Central Africa but I believe they looked at my hard work because I have been designing now close to four years.”

She added, “My nomination means a lot for South Sudan, it means that our work in the fashion industry is being followed and appreciated beyond borders and I hope I will bring the award home to show the world that fashion designers here have what it takes to compete in the fashion world.”

Winnie recalls that it is her hard work that earned her a pace in the nominations amongst the millions of fashion designers in East and Central Africa.

“I have been really working hard like I can really feel it,” she said.  “From the time I begun, things have really changed and it is from my hard work that I get invitations to showcase in international fashion shows,” she noted.

 “I have improved so much,” she said.  I remember the first time I showcased in Kigali, my collection looked so confused but it is from there that I learnt to do better. I learnt how to do better. I was challenged and every time I go for these international fashion weeks I get challenged to do better,” she explained.

“Whenever I get an invitation I have to do my best, I have to be more creative, bring in something extra ordinary to stand out,” she added.

She said her hard work, maintaining the trend of fashion, and creating something different made her be recognized for the nominations.

However, Winnie faces challenges in developing her business in South Sudan. She imports every material from across the borders in order to produce her designs.

“All this year we had to import everything from outside; from needle, fabrics, buttons, and everything. We don’t manufacture things in our country. It requires we get hard currency and it keeps fluctuating by the time you get those things the next thing you hear is that the dollar has gone up, it is really challenging in the business,” she said.

Winnie also has to facilitate her trips to the international fashion shows, which is expensive.
“The only people who support me are the people who buy from me,” she said.

The fashion industry in South Sudan is way behind the rest of the countries, but right now the world has started to recognize the fashion industry in the country, according to Winnie.

Locally, she said, South Sudanese have also started picking up interest in the locally designed clothes, something which gives her hope that the fashion industry will grow in future.

“Now people are really into fashion. They want to have something different, they are looking out for designers to give them advice,” she said.

She said she wants to see the country develop its fashion industry to be globally recognized. “I have really sacrificed so much for the fashion industry not for my own benefit but I want to set a platform for our future fashion designers.”

She advises other fashion designers in the country to keep “working hard, and work together” to develop the industry. “It’s from here that you get challenged and learn something from each other. You have to learn to work as a team,” she added.

Winnie noted fashion can sell the country and attract investors in the country if developed.
She hopes she would be the first South Sudanese to win the award. If she does not win, she would “work more and more hard” in order to get nominated in bigger shows and to feature in bigger events like the New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week.

Being a member of the Anataban campaign group advocating for peace in South Sudan, she also dedicates her art collections to advocate for the return of peace in the country.

“I want us to embrace peace, with peace we can do much,” she said. Please let’s embrace peace. I believe personally peace will come but it all starts with us. We have to let go of what happened. We should stop this revenge, we have to take responsibility of our country,” she said.

“The journey is just beginning, even if I lose, I know I am already a winner and I’m already privileged to be nominated because there are a million designers in East and Central Africa.

The fact that I got to the nomination week, I’m humbled already,” she said. Nothing will stop me from going on,” she said.

Swahili Fashion Week is the biggest and largest annual fashion event in the whole of East and Central Africa providing platform for fashion and accessory designers from Swahili speaking countries and beyond to showcase their talent, market their creativity and network with clientele and the international fashion industry.

It is aimed at emphasizing to the region that fashion is an income generating creative industry, meanwhile promoting a Made in Africa concept.


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