Zim Abroad (ZA): Congratulations for being the ZAA UK 2017 Fashion winner, tell us how you felt on that day and what this means to you and your clothing range?
Tapiwa Dingwiza (TD): It was absolutely a humbling moment to be recognised as a Fashion Designer of the Year and it means a lot to me and what I do.
ZA: What do you think contributed to you walking away with this accolade?
TD: I will probably say it was the amount of work and academics that I invested in the brand and the designs.
ZA: Tell us about your fashion range – what is it all about / does it incorporate?
TD: It is a range of luxury designs full of craftsmanship, creativity and embossed personal messages for a confident, classic and playful man while the woman is distinctive, modern and dares to be different. The dresses are designed with structure and full volume. The label seeks to create a relationship between a wearer and a garment by simply having a secret message, a memorable event or inspirational words written on your garment in braille and embroidered words.
ZA: You market your clothing range under S.VINGO Bespoke tell us more about this original name and what inspired it?
TD: S.Vingo Bespoke is derived from my hometown, Masvingo, Zimbabwe as it is where everything initially started. My mum and dad were Pastors and their income used to come from them sewing dresses, knitting cardigans and making leather bags and this is where my skills were nurtured and it inspired me to follow suit and use the last part of my hometown as my brand name. I am proud of my family and upbringing hence it has to be in my brand.
ZA: When did you establish the company?
TD: The company was established as part of my University Final Major Product in June 2016.
ZA: Tell us the future plans for S. VINGO Bespoke?
TD: Expanding the brand through teaching and motivating young people to get into creative arts and developing more designs.
ZA: What else do you do besides specialising in fashion design?
TD: I am a Fashion Lecturer at University of Arts London (London College of Fashion) and LS College. I am also a youth tutor for Threads, Peabody.
ZA: Which UK city are you based?
ZA: As an emerging fashion designer explain what challenges you experience in your business?
TD: Clients not understanding the design cycle of any garment produced, the time invested and scale, the charges, materials and the crucial part of copyright within design.
ZA: Explain how the business has been received by the market?
TD: Exceptionally received locally and internationally.
ZA: Most emerging and established designers have dressed celebrities in order to get that recognition, tell us if you have done so and which names and if not if you plan to go that route and which celebrity names you would like to dress?
TD: My brand is specifically for individuals with and without social status hence it caters for a wider range of individuals. S.Vingo Bespoke has the individual client’s specific requirements at heart.
ZA: How do you market your clothing range or where can people find the S.VINGO Bespoke range?
TD: Social media platforms and word of mouth has sustained the business.
ZA: Where have you showcased your range?
TD: The Trampery, Old Street, in June 2016; Vogue Online June 2016; The Zimbabwe Fashion Showcase UK in July 2016
ZA: What are the unique selling points in your fashion range?
TD: The story behind the brand, the bespoke techniques used to create the garments, the designs, the fabrics, the price, the shape.
ZA: What is your view about the fashion designing scene back home in Zim?
TD: There are a lot of great designers doing so well in Zimbabwe and it is very encouraging and inspiring.
ZA: Which global fashion designers do you look up to and why?
TD: I do have a lot of designers that really inspire me in different aspects and at the moment allow me to mention Balenciaga as he is “the master of us all”. I have always been intrigued by his, shapes, fabrics and innovation. I had an opportunity to see his work at the Victoria and Albert Museum recently and his inventiveness and intricate tailoring is a challenge to any designer.
ZA: Which part of Zimbabwe where you born and grew up?
TD: Born and bred in Masvingo.
ZA: Name the schools that you attended?
TD: Chikato Primary School, Masvingo, Zimuto High School, Masvingo, Pakame High School, Shurugwi and UFH, South Africa
ZA: Tell us if you hold any fashion design qualification and from which school and when attained?
TD: Find Your Fashion – University of the Arts London (LCF, March 2012); Drawing For Fashion – University of the Arts London (LCF, July 2012); Extended Diploma in Art and Design (Fashion) – Greenwich Community College (June 2013); Foundation Degree in Arts (Production Tailoring) – University of the Arts London (LCF; June 2015), Fashion Industry Mentoring Scheme – University of the Arts London (LCF; June 2015), Learning and Teaching in Art and Design University of the Arts London (LCF, April 2016); BA (Hons) Bespoke Tailoring – University of the Arts London (LCF, June 2016); PGCert – University of the Arts London (LCF, current)
ZA: What advice would you give to others who may look up to you as a role model?
TD: Do not be afraid to invest academically in something that you believe you want to pursue as a career.
ZA: What is your motto at work or in business?
TD: Take charge, be proud, approach and network.
ZA: How do you see your range in 5 years as S. VINGO Bespoke?
TD: Fully established within UK and with international outlets.