One of the soil’s undisputed top designers Ingo Shanyenge has broken barriers over the years, stepping into the fashion industry with a unique signature. He still continues to set trends that many have come to love and follow. The designer became a household name a few years ago after finishing his studies in the United Kingdom. From the humble beginnings of the days working from home, Ingo has now stepped up the ladder of relevance, now operating from his Incubation Centre studio in Katutura.
Anything unique, beyond the imagination, translated to reality and fitting the individual’s liking, Ingo can do it. He has impressed many with this versatile skill from sketching the look and bringing together every part for an Ingo Shanyenge branded product. The Lounge sits with the designer to reflect on his footprint in the industry so far.
The Namibian market
Fashion in Namibia is not as big and as such only a few designers that make it to the top. This reality can be attributed to the underdeveloped status of the fraternity. For Ingo, the market is still in its infancy which explains the fact that designers as not so much of a talk, yet.
Their work has started to be recognized in the recent wake of those who like style because people now want locally produced products. “Matric farewells, weddings or simply corporate events. People now want to wear locally produced things and that is where we come in. It is now all about ‘I’m dressed by who,’” said Ingo.
Ingo acknowledges that besides the slow pace, the industry is picking up quite well and there is space for many designers to establish themselves. “A lot of designers are coming out and people are studying these careers. We are like an artist, you cannot just be producing singles, you need to produce an album. So you are now seeing designers going out into the market to do their thing.”
“The market is there, so we just need those in the industry to up their game and become competitive. It’s all about putting out a good product and earning people’s trust that you can deliver what they want.”
The versatile talented designer has recently been a favourite with making sure couples look the pair. With unique African royal looks, Ingo has set a new trend that is only owned by the couple. “I am not a fan of looking for new looks on the internet. If we copy, we would all be looking the same. What happens it that couples come to me with a theme and we try to work out something unique to the customer. You have to give people a custom experience because a wedding is a ceremonial event and it is special.
You wouldn’t want your wedding look like the next persons wedding,” said Ingo. He adds, “Weddings now, it is no longer about the braid maids. The entire family wants to be dressed.”
What sets you apart?
It is the priority of every designer to introduce themselves in a particular manner that will automatically distinct their brand from the other competitors. “I put a mark on my products. I do not believe being repetitive or stagnant. You give every client a client order a different experience and make their product special. It is only so much colours you have so I try to tweak it for a new look. I treat every clients as a new project. I don’t believe I make clothing for a particular look – I sell a product, a brand and it is a lifestyle.”
“Anyone can be a designer but you need inspired creativity and innovation so that they are able to create trends. You need to be painting a different picture every time.”
Fashion trends come and go. It is thus up to the designer to make sure their design stays. Ingo started off with the trend of shirts with a unique African print. The collection blew many away with other following collections that he produced. Following what is currently trending, Ingo is working on a winter collection that will feature bommer jackets. His royalty collection is still in the good books of couples.
Beside the low exposure of the industry, designers and many in the industry are not having it smooth at all times. Evidently, the industry has its ups and equally its lows in terms of sales but designers not only have to deal with that.
“Materials are very limited. As a result, I cannot do some of the things my clients want because I do not have the raw material. For example, if I have to do denim wear, I would have to go to South Africa to get the quality product. So we are limited.”
What inspires you?
“My environment does it all. I do not look at the internet because I like doing things that are not done before. I look out at my environment and set a theme. Sometimes I pick from history and set a theme. I can set a theme on architecture and do something on it. I can even make a collection on car rims and still be able to come out with something.”
Growing a brand
Asked about where he sees himself as a brand in the near future, Ingo responds; “To grow a powerful brand, it will take you about ten years. I am not in a rush at the moment. I won’t say I want to be this and that in the next year. The longer you maintain it, the bigger it goes. You just have to stay afloat and relevant. But I’m looking forward to have a place where I can stock my product and also spread out to the outside market.