In a bid to represent and celebrate blind people, Zimbabwean-born fashion designer Tapiwa Dingwiza blends Braille into her fashion designs.
Her collection is inspired by her childhood experiences.
“My collection is menswear and women’s wear that has been inspired by my childhood education. I attended a boarding school in Zimbabwe, Zimuto High School, that we shared with blind students at Copota School for the Blind and they used braille as a means of communication and after a thorough research, experiments and visits to blind or visually impaired centres around London, I decided to incorporate braille in my garments,” she said
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As a fashion designer, she is bridging the gap by creating a collection that is inclusive and meaningful.
Her clothes contain personal and motivational Braille messages. She said it is important for people in the blind community to have fashion that represents and celebrates them.
Dingwiza was born in Zimbabwe to the late Pastor Dingwiza and Mama Dingwiza and in 2002, she relocated to the United Kingdom.
To fend for their kids, her parents earned a living from sewing dresses, bags, and jerseys and would exchange them for maize.
She studied Textiles at school and a graduate of Bespoke Tailoring from the London College of Fashion.
“I love making garments that enhance confidence paying attention to details, silhouette, and fabrics and at the same time setting my own trend at my own pace,” she said.
Dingwiza created her fashion label and named it “S. Vingo Bespoke” in 2006. Her label seeks to create a relationship between a wearer and a garment by simply having a secret message, a memorable event or inspirational words written on your garment in braille.
“Every garment that I made has leather embossed or embroidered message in braille. The collection seeks to create a relationship between a wearer and a garment by simply having a secret message, a memorable event or inspirational words written on your garment in braille. Social inclusion is key in this collection hence it is for any modern, confident, classic and playful man, sighted or blind,” she stated.
Two of her outfits have been featured twice in Vogue. Her works also featured in LCF BA 2016 Publication and she was awarded Fashion Designer of the Year 2017, by Zimbabwe Achievers Awards UK and Women for Africa Awards UK.
Dingwiza is an outreach worker and lecturer with the University of the Arts London supporting local youth in understanding the skills in tailoring and fashion in general.
She also delivers tailoring projects funded by London College of Fashion to young mothers in Hackney and runs a Saturday fashion project with Peabody Threads, targeting young girls, inspiring them to think about fashion at a Higher Education level.
She is also a lecturer for Fashion and Textiles at Lewisham Southwark College. In this video interview with the BBC, she explains why she incorporates braille into her design.