BY DARLINGTON MWASHITA

BULAWAYO fashion designer, Thobekile Zondo (27), popularly known by the brand name ‘LEVERANGE’ (LVR), has ventured into the production of face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the city.

As of Saturday, Zimbabwe had 2 434 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 518 recoveries and 34 fatalities.

Zondo, who won the Best Up-and-coming Fashion Designer award at the Bulawayo Arts Awards last year, said her decision was necessitated by the high demand for face masks.

“I have been making and selling face masks and also doing the best I can with local fabric to make some of the designs for my customers,” she said.

Zondo said although business was brisk as face masks were on demand, the challenge was that she was unable to access fabrics from outside the country.

Almost all countries have closed their borders to limit inter-country movements as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“As a fashion designer during this pandemic, I have been experiencing more challenges because I buy most of my fabric from outside the country,” Zondo said.

Meanwhile, the designer said she developed interest in fashion and designing in 2015 after meeting top South Africa-based designer Arakani Nkululeko Ncube who subsequently groomed her.

In the same year, she showcased her first collection at Intwasa Fashion Show and was selected to showcase at Ekurhuleni Fashion Festival in South Africa.

“In 2018 I was selected by Paper bag Africa to showcase and represent the country at Mozambique Fashion week with House of Stone Fashion Designer from Harare,” she said.

“It was such a good experience because it is one of the biggest Fashion shows in Africa, I learnt a lot and l met different fashion designers from Africa and overseas.”

Her vision, she said, was to become one of the biggest designers and have one of the most successful fashion houses in Africa.

Zondo studied social work at Women’s University in Africa in Harare and dressed Miss Tourism Zimbabwe finalists in 2015.

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