Botho Chalebgwa has the zeal of a newbie, determination of an achiever, dreams of a champion and hands of a world class fashion designer. Writes KEITEBE KGOSIKEBATHO
In a nutshell Botho Chalebgwa (27) is a young fashion designer to watch for. She has achieved what some designers twice her age are yet to achieve or have taken a lifetime to achieve.
Her design studio in the backyard of her suburban home in Block 8, Gaborone oozes professionalism and class, with captivating metal racks welcoming guests at the intimate reception.
Currently Chalebgwa is busy growing her brand - The BOTOCY brand - which thrives on creative flair, zesty use of colour and experimental ‘Afro-centricity’ while maintaining a high level comfort and chicness. The BOTOCY clothing, she explains, is not only dedicated to high quality and immaculate finishing but says it also introduces the concept of beauty in simplicity.
Where it started
Although her career got into full swing after graduating with a BA Honours from Linea Fashion Academy in Durban, South Africa in 2010, Chalebgwa says she has always had the love for fashion from an early age. As a child, she says, she loved creative things and would do artistic stuff like painting whenever she was given a chance.
She would then make a choice to study fashion immediately after finishing her high school. “I knew what I wanted and it became my only choice, fortunately I got admitted into fashion school,” she says.
The rest as the say is history. Even at college she loved competitions and participated several times. “I made it twice into the top 20 of Young Designers’ category at the Durban July while still in college,” she recalls.
After graduating, her first break came when she was chosen to showcase her designs at the inaugural Gaborone Fashion night in 2011, alongside big names in the local fashion industry such as Mpho Kuaho and Koketso Chiepe. She would later in the same year showcase her designs again at the Miss Botswana Pageant.
She also showcased her designs at the Colour in the Desert Fashion Week in 2011 and was crowned the best emerging designer. This paved the way for her to go and showcase at the Swahili Fashion Week in Tanzania the same year.
Her star continued shining over into 2012, whereupon she was chosen to showcase at the London Fashion Week’s world emerging talent category where she and a team from Botswana made it to the Top 8. Still in London, the same week the BOTOCY brand featured at the Limkokwing Creativity in Motion Fashion show.
Between 2012 and 2013 she also participated in the Gaborone Fashion Weekend, Miss Botswana Fashion show, the national President’s Day Celebrations Fashion Show and Botswana Independence Day Fashion Show where the BOTOCY brand continued making waves.
Just last year Chalebgwa says she got a chance to showcase at the Africa Fashion Reception in Nigeria where they were hosted by the president of the western African state. Subsequent to that she would attend the second leg of the reception in Paris where she also got the chance to showcase her designs.
But it does not end there with this young achiever. She is currently working on professionalising her brand to meet international standards. Her dream and aim is to see her brand making it into the international scene. “I want to see my brand being a household name and supplying stores worldwide,” she says.
According to Chalebgwa, she recently missed a chance to be shortlisted in an international competition organised by Vogue Magazine not because she is not capable but because her brand didn’t have certain things required of a reputable brand internationally like having its own website. “At the international level such things are taken seriously,” she says, maintaining that she wants to make her brand readily available to any person worldwide.
Chalebgwa also expressed concern that although the fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar trade and can help diversify the economy, not much attention is given to it.
Who she has dressed?
Among others she has dressed radio personality Gaona Tlhasana; Miss Botswana 2013-Tapiwa Preston and Mpho Laing the fashionista.
According to Chalebgwa with Spring season already here people should look out for clothes that are a little bit crafty and Colours that are mint, coral and lemon.