The fashion industry is among the leading contributing sectors when it comes to environmental pollution. By some estimates, it is the second most polluting industry in the world. It is for this reason that Catharina Natang, a dynamic, creative and international designer based in Buea came up with a grand project aimed at “Reducing Plastic-based Fabrics in Local Fashion Design: A Training-Empowerment-Promotion (TEP) Model”. The project is sponsored by the “Afri-Plastics Challenge”.
So far, the project has provided training in Sustainable Fashion to designers. It has also provided capacity building for the economic empowerment of designers. The project culminated in a fashion show which gave designers the opportunity to showcase their talents in sustainable fashion.
Catherina Natang through the project has brought awareness to the public and her colleagues, that sustainable fashion is not a new concept, and neither is showcasing designs from eco-friendly fabrics. The Afro-Sustainable Fashion Show is the first of its kind which exclusively showcases designs from waste plastic fabric pieces. Abanke Divine, one of the organisers remarked that a show of this magnitude aims at drawing attention to the fact that the fashion industry is currently contributing more than a third of the micro-plastics found in oceans.
The Delegate of Arts and Culture, Angoula Doris who was Chair and Chief Judge at the show remarked that “apart from raising awareness among African fashion enthusiasts, the show also demonstrated the creativity of African designers in producing designs from waste plastic fabrics that they would have otherwise been disposed of into the environment.
The fashion show which took place on the 21st of January 2023 at Fini Hotel, Limbe, Cameroon, under the auspices of the Southwest regional Delegate of Arts and Culture, also had several entertainment personalities in attendance. Allene Menget, a movie producer, actor and comedian, Cameroon music star Rinyu, and Miss Fombon Rita, a social media influencer among other dignitaries from home and abroad graced the event.
The event included activities that promote sustainable fashion within the context of environmental protection; picking up trash along the beachfront, a red carpet walk, presentations on the contribution of the fashion industry to marine plastic pollution, and a competitive fashion show showcasing exclusive designs from waste plastics-based fabrics among others.
In all, nine designers presented 10 collections each which included outfits for men, women and children. They were competing for the grand prices of FCFA 500,000, FCFA 300,000 and FCFA 100,000. T.Rose Fashion House won the first prize. Abendong Jones emerged in the second position and was followed in the third place by Tima Blessing. They all received their trophies and cash prizes from the Delegate who promised the designers her full support in the industry.
Catherine Natang is optimistic as she anticipates the next show in the months ahead hoping that more designers will join the train to ensure a safer environment.