Are You Wearing You?!

Bobby, a luxury designer, returns home to make Uganda’s go-to streetwear brand from 100% Ugandan cotton in Kampala, a mecca of 2nd hand clothes. But this innocuous crop is more loaded than Bobby thought, and exploring home with fresh eyes unravels complex histories and uncertain futures for his young generation in a country on its knees.

Uganda is the site of one of the world’s youngest populations. These citizens are celebrated for making up part of the most entrepreneurial country globally. Our capital’s streets are bursting - people sell everything from roast chicken to phones and manicures, and the 2nd hand clothing market absorbs thousands of our youngest and brightest. However, with 9,000 available jobs for 400,000 new graduates annually, is this hyper-entrepreneurialism a choice?

Berlin-based luxury fashion designer, Bobby Kolade, returns home to Kampala to create a mass street-wear brand made from 100% Ugandan cotton. Ill-prepared for the challenges awaiting him, ARE YOU WEARING YOU?! follows his pursuit to create something winsome and Ugandan in a country that’s a shadow of its independence hopes.

In Bobby’s new Kampala, handshakes negotiate the kickback on the kickback itself. Riotous vendors. Competing speakers blare from clubs and churches. There is no time to look into the sky and dream, the hustle is in front of you and if you don’t catch it, you don’t survive.

But Bobby wants more. He believes he will build a street-wear brand that transports Ugandan cotton back to its glory days. The days our elders speak of - where wearing Ugandan cotton wasn’t revelatory - it was our parent’s school uniform. A Kampala we cannot imagine today. In our grandmother’s day, we exported 80,000 tonnes of cotton a year. In our day, we are one of the world’s largest importers of 2nd hand clothes, the butt of the western world’s joke of fast fashion. Hawaiin holiday shirts, thinning jackets, old bras...cheap thrills are coming at a high cost - who’s paying?

This is the country we are about to inherit; our future demands a look into our past. Somewhere in the upbeat routine of yesteryear, in the months that became years, Uganda’s independence became a noose around the neck of its freedom. These 58 years of independence have created a nation that imports almost everything that wears us, including the socks on our feet.

Bobby’s navigation of Kampala and cotton puts us in the center of a conversation between our shaky colonial foundations, the promise of independence, and a strapped future. This crop introduced modern economy to Uganda. It grew to build livelihoods, identity, and industries to her people in the 60s and 70s. Now it has shrunk to a whisper-sized reminder of our past in a new and privatized state. What happened?

Status

In production

Production team