Wyne Kirabo Is On The Rise And Crossing Borders With Fashion

Wyne Kirabo Is On The Rise And Crossing Borders With Fashion

“In turn, if I don’t introduce myself to the world, chances are that they will not respect me enough to recognize me. We are unstoppable when we meet at the point of equilibrium.” – Wyne Kirabo

Unrushed by Europe’s fast changing trends in the epitome of fashion’s giants and flashing fashion scenes, the saying; “Steady wins the race” has proven to be true for this creative duo. In December 2022, Wyne Kirabo won the award for Designer of The Year -Womenswear at the Abryanz Style and the Fashion Awards. In this exclusive, she talks about what has elevated the brand to the top,  admitting to a cocktail of factors, but mostly her unwavering desire to bring the world together.

Wyne Kirabo, the brand founded by Winnie and her partner Gerard is inspired by what they hope and wish the world would be, united. From the behaviors of society to the way people look at each other, and that could be racially or even status quo, the goal remains; “To find equilibrium between the cultures in which we are immersed,” she says. More like the couple’s love of life and fiscal balance, this brand continues to push boundaries and grow  in a sustainable way.

Winnie Kirabo

For Winnie, fashion has become a form of self-expression at a particular moment in time, or place. “We all have our different but symbiotic points of view about what fashion is. From this union emerges a particular entity with a life of its own called Wyne Kirabo,” she says.

With effortlessly captivating designs, the brand allures to an elegant, confident woman. Their usual client is someone that has clear ideas and understands how to fearlessly communicate through fashion, even if sometimes defined by a specific trend. Although Winnie tries to avoid basing her work entirely on trends, once in a while, she sips into the trends for the client or sheer inspiration.  “I love the confident smile I see on my customers when they wear one of our designs. This helps them investigate more deeply into the intimate parts that we all have. Our designs unite femininity, confidence and strength, that union has a lot of energy and beauty,” she says. 

[QUOTE] Inspiration is not something that understands schedules. In the end, it can find you in the most romantic situation or in a moment of absolute chaos.

Winnie has always looked at any and everything for inspiration. “That could be my culture or European designs and once in a while, I look at the trends or even off the street. That tells me what the people are actually feeling and helps me keep an eye on the ground level. But inspiration is not something that understands schedules, so in the end it can find you in the most romantic situation or in a moment of absolute chaos. For example, observing the linear and geometric shapes of a building in Barcelona when you  are returning home from a photo session and getting stuck in traffic jam listening to Ugandan radio online in your car. Inspiration is something alive,” she says

“I reimagine a lot of things that I see, sometimes I sketch out a design and redraw it at least 5 times to see what it would look like with different changes, and this gives me possibilities and options. It can be a challenge, but with challenges also comes fun and interesting games.” Winnie has also found power in looking at the opposite of whatever she creates.

In the 22 collection, for example, the team set out on the challenge of getting color out of the collection, except for black and white. From there, out of the comfort zone, -[where Winnie likes to exist] an unexpected vision that gave a lot of value and strength to the garments arose. “The union of opposites arises so that they can coexist making each other better, that is, merging. And the same goes for our cultures and society.” The dualistic essence of culture trickles down in everything Winnie and Gerard do. Even at home, Winnie confirms that there is no meal she can make and she misses adding a European flavor or ingredient, even if it’s a Ugandan sauce. “I have literally been living a multi-cultural lifestyle from the get go, for example; the way I dress has a conservative touch, which is so Ugandan of me.”

Wyne Kirabo

In the forthcoming collection, Winnie takes back home to Africa and will be using the Kikoyi fabric that is exclusive to Ugandan cultures. “I want to see how I can put our fabrics on the European streets by reimagining it in different forms of design.” For this brand, it has been and is being a journey towards their roots. “It is a wakeup call that I can love who I am, thanks to the struggle of those who preceded me, our ancestors deserve that respect. In the end, people will discover that we all come from Africa, and it’s beautiful” she says, but as the world transitions into a global village, Winnie believes that shared culture stands a better chance to live on. Just as said by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Culture does not make people, people make culture”. Winnie reflects on the many Africans born in Europe, “If culture isn’t shared, that means such groups don’t stand a chance of embracing and learning about their culture”.

Although fashion has been a personal journey with no mentors, the duo relies on each other for advice and affirmation. They also give back to society through two  charity organizations and present mentorship and opportunities by providing skills to young creatives. Apart from their personal charity entity, Wyne Kirabo Social, they are also working with WECO Uganda, which is based in Spain and does its work in Uganda.

Taking the Abryanz Style and Fashion Award 2022 for Designer of The Year -Womenswear, Winnie tells me how ‘very surreal’ this moment was for the brand, but even more for her and Gerard. “It was definitely unexpected, at least from my side,” she says, adding that fellow nominees were all super amazing creatives. For her, to even make it on the nomination list was already a win, but as fate would have it, to go on and take the award was a next level surprise.”

The brand is already taking up new spaces in Europe and Winnie is strengthening her compass more than ever. “We hope to open new doors for people like myself, and I am very grateful for the doors that the award has opened. It is an honor to show African and Ugandan creativity and fashion through our art on international television, newspapers, magazines, runways and media.

Wyne Kirabo

Winnie loves the work of Iris Van Harpen, whose designs she describes as  “a work of art”  and her level of innovation ‘unreal’,  “I would wish to pick her brain” she says. Looking back home, she is impressed by Kaijuka Abbas, “I am impressed by how he is taking Uganda to the world.” She also spots Marni X Marni, whom she calls ‘a cool stylist’ citing the way she rearranges a design and makes it so cool and chic as daring, “I’m in love with it,” she says.

“At the moment, sourcing for fabrics is the biggest challenge that we are dealing with, especially after the pandemic.” Many of her sources had to close their shops, and she tells me that nothing beats having an established working relationship in this industry.  Finding new sources has presented them with a new set of challenges. But as they play the waiting game, hoping  the inflation rates to goes low, Winnie and Gerard are working with imaginative solutions.  “At the same time, things such as these are the ones that force you to be creative and grow in all senses.”

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