We caught up with Ugandan born, London - based Fashion designer Lamula Nassuna about her latest collection Enviri, which aims to address the current hair policing issues through clothing. Discover how this played a part in developing not only the brand but Lamula’s self confidence, alongside some truths and techniques on funding your own label.
When did you start the brand?
The brand is now about 3 years old. Officially it’s been a year and a half but on paper it’s about 3 years.
I think I could have progressed further than where I am now, but there was a phase I went through where I had to restructure the brand and really find out what it was about. I felt like I was stagnant and not really going anywhere, about half way through – I would say about a year and a half – I stopped for a bit and had a rethink.
It started after I finished uni. I had a lot of work experience with other designers, then from there I developed the label. It was a big journey for me because I didn’t have the confidence, I didn’t feel like I was capable of doing something that came from myself, I hid behind friends and was backstage all the time. Now I’m on a journey.
'It was a big journey for me because
I didn’t have the confidence'
What inspired your latest collection?
The whole collection is called Enviri which means hair in my language – I’m from Uganda. Especially with the industry I’m in, Fashion is all quite surfaced based and I was fed up of that. So I tried to change the direction of it, it was more of a personal point of view as it was all to do with my hair but I didn’t know how to contextualise that into clothing.
I did a lot of research with women, not just woman of colour but all types of women, I asked them about their views on hair and that’s when I started to develop my ideas into clothing.
How would describe your previous style?
It was a very similar style, but it was just very mainstream. I mean it’s still my design style; which is classical but with a slight futuristic, androgynous look. What makes it different now is that has more depth and it’s more relatable, it’s something that I want people to engage with.
In terms of funding fashion how did you find it, especially when you first started out?
It’s really hard, I’m not going to lie. There is so much competition out there, even if you apply for funding you will be lucky if they even respond. You just have to be really clever, and be resourceful in terms of how you produce your pieces. This collection wasn’t cheap, I had to pull in favours and ask friends, because the way I created the pieces it’s one piece at a time. Also my studio is based in my apartment, that helps keeps the costs down.
'What makes it different now is that has more depth and it’s more relatable, it’s something that I want people to engage with.'
How do you stay motivated?
At this stage I work by myself a lot. I don’t really work around a lot of people unless I need to outsource and when you’re not surrounded by a lot of people you can lose motivation.
It’s a bit odd but social media. When I go online and I see what’s going on I think oh my gosh I haven’t done anything, it gives you a view of the outside world. When you’re stuck in your ‘little box’ it’s your window to what’s going on.
What are you working on next?
The latest collection; Enviri. There are so many avenues I could go down but I want to develop it more. Finance is a bit of a restriction, but when I get the opportunity to I am definitely developing the collection.
When researching I found that a lot of the women were experiencing similar things. Some women would say ‘my boyfriend prefers my hair straight or with weave’ and I wasn’t asking them in a bias way so they were free to say what they wanted but the responses really made me question why this was all happening.
It’s not that I am necessarily going to change their minds about it but it’s about creating a dialogue through clothing, through my work. Creating pieces that celebrate black women and their hair plus painting a picture of what society is doing, especially with what is happening in South Africa and the US with hair policing.
'It’s about creating a dialogue through clothing, through my work'
I think that all creative’s have a way of addressing issues within their work, and for me that’s my ultimate goal – to create a dialogue through clothing and hopefully become a role model to the younger generation.