Dressing outside the box – CONSERVATIVE vs LIBERAL FASHION.

 Lately, there is this rare breed of dare-devil stylists that have chosen to go against all odds beyond conventional status of mind and being to pull off the most outrageous and outstanding looks. 

For the moments they have come out outstanding, we have been clearly fascinated and set out praises all over their names because they deserve it. But for outrageous times, we have refused to let those ‘efforts’ go to a non-criticised protocol. The plenaries to which they are summoned have always been good enough to give us positive, negative and obviously biased comments. And that is what we are here for.In a field that is  an art and for the creative, anything can come to be a hit and so can anything be a miss. It is to the society to select whether it  gets more permissive or dismissive. 

Over time, as a global village,  we have grown to accept new trends and we’ll dismiss some outrightly. The world is not yet at that point of total permissiveness and neither is it still at that point of conservativeness. That is why we have stylists that have realized that we are in transition …right in the middle of the scale and have chosen to combine both views of life to give a fresh and new look to the apparel table.

There are moments the stylists’ society has chosen to borrow from the future by creating designs straight from imagination, things we have totally never seen before. Commonly described as out of the world and off the hook design. This has taken on digital prints, synthetic material and so much more that is not seen before. On the other hand, we have those that have chosen to continuously borrow from traditional society, added a new touch to deliver amazingly new material to our closets. This has carried on the gomesi, Kanzu, kikoi, crafts and much more.

In a bid to always have a sense of identity and clear sense of origin, we have continuously chosen to never lose touch with our cultural values, norms and morality…which is conservative. African fashion has overly been groomed and centred around this all our lives. In the western world where we are not sure of their cultural norms and value due an avalanche of mixed bloods,  it does not come by surprise that they are actually so permissive which has created aspects for us to accept and deny a place in our hearts. The Eastern side of the world has grown so rich in culture that they have never quavered a single bit. The principle of sticking to culture has been a growing trend lately. Its hitting two birds with the same stone. It is being liberally conservative.

Kikoi is a colourful material popularly used by ladies in Buganda as part of the undergarments layering of the busuuti (gomesi). It has however been picked from right under the gomesi and brought to the top to create some of the most beautiful contemporary outfits. In 2016, we saw Rafael Kasule of K-Rafael kouture come out to develop the Ugandan team outfits with this same material and it was received with awe. Bettinah Tianah that is arguably the most fashionable and stylish lady in the Pearl of Africa has also been spotted in outfits based on this same material. And well, it has not faced any opposition showing off a growing level of permissiveness …or a dying conservative society…which ever way you wish to state it!

 In men’s wear, take an example of the suit, it has faced a tremendous overhaul that has been received with wide spread arms. The joining of very many colors, patterns and materials has been a hit. Then theold guard  has been seen around gladly clad in the new edition of the suits. The conventional suit is still an undisputed classic though. In the same line, I take on the ladies’ gown. The changes in the gown  have been taken on with mixed feelings. From the conventional full body cover of a gown to thigh high slits with jaw dropping waterfalls and insane cleavage show offs. Questions like ‘are women really supposed to show off body in such a manner?’ and the likes have been raised. But they look stunningly great. We don’t know whose side to take.

I recently read about a guy in Europe that has donned dresses for the previous 5 years to work and he is a professional and the comments were both positive and negative(partially permissive society). Shorts have been known to be used back in the households and probably knee length. These days they are worn so short probably just a few inches from the groin for men. And they are also taken out to party in society. Dresses were originally long now they come so short. 

The criticism is insane but the yet to live long debate is-‘Are we going to reign Extremistan or Mediocre?’ No one ever promised good from mediocrity but for such a field, mediocrity is my stand.

Till then…

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Zaake Joshua Sserufusa

( Creative Outlaw & Fashion Writer )

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