Ugandan clothing are perhaps not the brands you will find on the periphery of an international fashion event but come home - to Uganda, and you will embrace our unique brands. 'Kanzu', 'Gomesi' and 'busuti'/ 'mushanana' are house hold names you won't find else where.
They have come along way - deeply engrained in the legacy and culture of this nation, this Ugandan dressing is unique in its self with self proclaimed designers that you will only find when you come over for your Ugandan holiday. Feel free to take away one of these pieces as a souvenir that will ever remind you of Uganda.
Donning the Gomesi - Isn't she elegant?
Arguably, the most popular Ugandan clothing is the Gomesi (for women) and Kanzu (for men) - with their charismatic design to detail and precision, they are built around the preservation of Ugandan culture and truly represent that.
... And I am not talking about labels here like; Chanel, Kappa or D&G, these Ugandan clothing are famous brands that are styles with perhaps less emphasis on sporty or fashion appearances but the occasions for which they are designed.
Many times they are elegant wear that will grace a dignified cultural/traditional occasion like an introduction ceremony (where the groom is introduced to the family of the bride to be) and a wedding ceremony.
... You will see quite a collection as different regions and tribes have their own traditional attire ... and for different occasions too!
Kanzu for Men - Photo by; Makerere Journalism & Media Students
... More style - Photo by; Makerere Journalism & Media Students
These Ugandan clothing are a famous scene at every occasion that gives opportunity to showcase Uganda's dressing and majority of Ugandans will be proud to come along dressed in these attires.
While you are here, the likelihood is that you will most certainly be invited to one of these occasions and, Yes! As part of your list of priorities, get yourself one of these and keep it away safe in waiting - just in case you land that invite; you wouldn't like to be taken by surprise!
Don't worry about the hassle of dressing up, a Ugandan friend will always be more than happy to guide you through the nitty gritty's.
... But, what about the day-to-day Ugandan clothing? I will say, 2 words come into play; smart and casual - there is a tendency of blending the 2 together but, I must say, Ugandans are generally smart. Any thing decent will pass for work. There is a general resentment for indecent dressing and many times depending on where you are, the community and occasion will dictate what is acceptable.
There is dressing that will entirely be acceptable for a party mood that will not pass for work and many times commonsense should prevail. If you are not sure, ask a friend. Often what you do and your position in society will shape your dressing based on the public expectation. Dressing as a tourist is different from when you work for a charity mission or a CEO of a multi-national company - right!
The other thing about Ugandan clothing is; generally the clothes are well pressed with the iron to look smart and for the women, if your dresses are what will be termed as 'see throughs' (clothes that let light through), then I would highly recommend you find some petticoats to shield the light. It doesn't matter how beautiful your dress will look, as long as they can see through it, it will be considered indecent.
I can hear someone in the background asking; what clothing can I then pack for my Ugandan holiday, Mission or work?
Sylvia Owori - Some of her Collections
Santa Anzo - Some of her Collections
Salome Katongole - Some of her Collections
I will simply say, anything that makes you comfortable, feel confident and smart to suit whatever occasion you will be attending and would be considerably acceptable and respectful to the Ugandan customs and culture, will pass. There is nothing cast in stone and usually it's rational!
Ugandan fashion has also come good - some amazing brands and designs have now hit the international scene from some renowned Ugandan fashion designers like Sylvia Owori of the Sylvia Owori brand and Santa Anzo of Arapapa. They have got such wonderful collections - believe you, me, you will be tempted to have/collect them if you are into fashion.
... And have you seen Salome Katongole's collections? Amazing! This Ugandan born fashion designer with an American cultural influence - so she says, needs no further introduction. Her merging of traditional and western style with a rich blend of colours, is splendid. For the ladies out there, I love her style! It's these designers and more that are stamping a touch of Ugandan fashion on the international scene.
Still about Ugandan clothing? - hmm ... I just can't stop to think about what else, but just remembered a few things that I think will be vital to carry along to your trip to Uganda. Things like; mosquito repellent, sweater or jacket for the cooler time of the year, sun cream / balm, sunglasses and a hat (it can sometimes get really hot here).
... And if you are doing some camping, don't forget to shop around for a mosquito net to protect you from the Mosquitoes at night.
Above all, you could forget some clothes but don't forget your camera and lots of films or memory cards! You will never forgive yourself for missing out on those Kodak moments.
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