“Don’t just stand there buy me a rolex”, “Banange *OMG*”, “Milan/Tokyo/Wandegeya/ Los Angeles”, “Klassic Kid”, “My Kampala”, “Spoken Truth”, “Mpaayo Akaseera”. You probably own or have seen someone wearing t-shirt with these slogans somewhere around town.
Gone are the days when Kampalians were wearing John Cena or 50 Cent t-shirts that proclaimed, “I love New York” or an American college. Today Kampalians are more aware of their style and who they represent with their dress code and there is a growing trend to support local designers and locally branded t-shirt companies. There are some conditions, however, customers want a product that is creative, classy and authentic.
Def.i.ni.tion Africa have led the way via creativeness in branded t-shirts in Kampala. Their popularity rose during the times of load shedding in Kampala when they came up with the “F.U.M.E.M.E” concept/t-shirts. They are also the makers of the “kyaba too much” t-shirts, “I like R.A.P (Rice and Peas)”, “beats by Kadongo Kamu”, to mention a few.
Some of the things they’re hoping to accomplish is to encourage Ugandans to buy local products with pride, change the perception of local production, increase the value of local products and make products with designs that speak of the African experience.
Ezi Wear is another company that makes branded t-shirts. You know them from t-shirts that have slogans like “Okweyokya ‘Burning yoself’”, “Walk the talk”, “Owe’ sente ze ‘Of their money!’” and so many others.
Mugizi Hillary, the proprietor of Ezi Wear shared on the founding of the company. “I founded the Ezi Wear brand as an entity to promote Ugandan t-shirts. For example if you look at the Nigerian market, Nigerians support and wear their own t-shirt brands so why not Ugandans? Ugandans should take the initiative and be patriotic support their own home made products whether it’s buying an Ezi Wear t-shirt or a t-shirt from another brand.”
“Ugandan branded t-shirts are swag,” said Sille Ranfelt, a Danish national and artist who has lived in Uganda for a year. “One of my favorites being ‘don’t just stand there buy me a rolex’”.
If you have been to the craft shop at Mish Mash on Acacia Avenue then you must have seen t-shirts branded with cool pictures and words like “boda boda evolution”, “Parental Mukyamu Advisory”, and “I love K’la”. They are made by Green Backlight who pride themselves in production of high quality t-shirts that have a local as well as an appealing vibe to them.
Masaani Art, with fashion designer Ras Kasozi, also makes branded t-shirts. Popular around the writing community and poetry society they have t-shirts with slogans like “Spoken truth”, “African Queen”, “phenomenal woman”, and “We ride Bodaz”. Their t-shirts come in all sizes and retail for 30,000 UGX.
Inside the Cleopatra shop at the Grand Imperial Terrace is KnwLess Wear. Pronounced know less wear it was rebranded to Tween Designs and has been around since June 2011. Their tag line is “wow in the now” and Stefan, the proprietor, credits their designs to authentic patterns used on their t-shirts. You know them from “Ndi mu na U”, “Don’t hate nawe kola ezizo” and “For God and my Uganda” t-shirts.
Destreet Art is an artist who also makes quality branded t-shirts. You might recognize him from “This is Africa” or “One Love” t-shirts. His concept is to move art from canvas to t-shirts. He says that this has helped Ugandans to appreciate their local art.
There are also great artists and fashion designers who design nice customized t-shirts like Paul Ndema and Xenson. It is great to see that Kampalians are getting more patriotic and discarding those Ja Rule/ DMX t-shirts to support local companies and artists.
Where can you find these shirts?
GB-KLA sells their shirts at MishMash and they come in medium and small sizes and cost 30,000 UGX. They can be reached on +256 774 880 318, http://www.gb-kla.com/, https://www.facebook.com/gbafrica/info
Def.i.ni.tion Africa has shirt available in all sizes and regular t-shirts retail for 35,000 UGX, def.i.ni.tion t-shirts 25,000 UGX, Polo shirts 50,000 UGX, children’s shirts 25,000 UGX. You can also place a customised order if you don’t find your size. They can be bought from Bold, Shop 29 Krsna Mart (Kisementi/ Kamwokya).
Ezi Wear t-shirts come in all sizes and cost 40.000 UGX each. Ezi wear is located in Kamwokya, Mawanda Road and can be reached on e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +256 783 991 971, Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/EZI.
KnwLess Wear / Tween Designs: Grand Imperial Terrace. They can be reached on +256 706 690 479, https://www.facebook.com/KnwLeSs.WeaR
Masaani Art t-shirts come in all sizes and retail for 30,000 UGX.
Destreet Art t-shirts cost 25,000 UGX . If you are out of Uganda they cost 15 Euros and with shipping 23 Euros. Destreet Art can be reached on +256 779 339 911, www.destereetart.webs.com