Doreen Umwali is a promising, local fashion designer whose designs have been featured at local and international events.
Umwali holds a Bachelors of Education degree from the National University of Rwanda. Her love for fashion dates back to 2008, when she was working as a travel agent.
In 2012, Umwali travelled to Dubai to buy items for selling like body sprays, bags and jewelry. She then started buying Ikitenge to sell, but most of her customers always asked where they could make their outfits and she saw an opportunity.
Under her label D’zoyah Kreationz, she has made dresses, blazers, crop tops and shirts out of linen, cotton or denim with a blend of Ikitenge. She also designs accessories like earrings, necklaces, purses, handbags, cushions and home décor.
Umwali’s first global showing was at the 2016 Rwanda Day in San Francisco, US and her outfits were well received. Other Rwandan designers to feature at the show were Kabash and Sonia Mugabo.
“I hadn’t realised how much African designs were loved out there,” she said.
In March 2018, Umwali was featured at the first edition of the Kigali International Fashion Week at Hilton Hotel in The Hague, Netherlands, and later in Belgium. Her designs were also featured at the 2018 Mercedes Benz fashion week in Accra, Ghana.
She made her debut in the Kigali Fashion Week on August 31, 2018. Umwali now travels to markets in Ghana, Nigeria and DR Congo to handpick her materials.
She is inspired by renowned West African designer Elikem Kumordie.
Social media has provided a great marketing platform for the designer. “I’ve been contacted through social media by many clients from the US, Europe, Uganda and locally,”she said.
Her outfits cost from Rwf35,000 to Rwf176,880. Umwali refutes claims that locally crafted outfits are expensive and not affordable.
“We deliver quality outfits,” she said. One of her highly anticipated show this year is the Tokyo Africa Collection, slated to take place in August in Tokyo, Japan.
Umwali has registered her company D’zoyah Kreationz and now hopes to open a shop where she can sell her clothes.