Ahead of the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards scheduled for 28 April which we’re proud media partners for, we have decided to devote our online blog to finding out a little more about the nominees in the Fashion Designer and Urban Fashion Design categories for this year’s awards. First up is Gray Rwanga of Blackarmoor who tells our editor Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo about the inspiration behind his designs and his all-important tree logo, the power within, and the loyalty and humanity of Zimbabweans.

As we continue to bring you our exclusive interviews with all the nominees, don’t forget to visit the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards website to purchase your tickets for the event at the prestigious The Grange Tower Hill and to view and vote for nominees in fashion and all other categories.

Tell us a little about your brand and its history?

Blackarmoor Clothing is the hottest, coolest, fresh urban clothing brand (Intelligence Consciousness) by Rwangah. Hail and praise to Blackarmoor, a name embedded in people, that needs to be told and sold. Blackarmoor is a person gifted beyond measure, a treasure – special and intelligent in their own way. A brand born out of love for self by wanting to wear something I could be happy about wearing myself. I made a few T-shirts for myself, and people on the streets and friends asking me where I got them from and wanting to buy even the stuff I was wearing made me realise I might be wearing a million worth of t-shirts here and that inspired me to take this further whilst having fun.

The tree logo on your designs symbolises intelligence, livelihood and humanity; how did this idea come about?

It came from ancient history where people used to get food and whatever they wanted from a tree which we call The Source. So we know within each and everyone of us is that source of ideas or some may call it inspiration, and that is represented by the tree a tree without name, as it gives lots so no name can be given to it. At same time remembering that we are one, the root is one; those fighting, if they put their guns or knives down, they will see they have got more in common. We all laugh, cry and like the same things regardless of who we are, no matter the language. Even with sign language, you can still crack a joke or two. All this is within.

Describe the Blackarmoor guy or girl.

It’s simple – someone who knows and understands he/she is intelligent and special in their own way, classy and grounded.

Where do you draw your inspirations from?

From the day I learned that all is within, I look within myself and I have not failed since, although there are things that are out there that I may read or see they add to what is within, like when Malcom X said “Who taught you to hate yourself?”, within me the question became “Why have you allowed or agreed to be taught to hate yourself?” It starts with US and ends with US. The God we look for up there is within. All the books we may read and learn from, most of those writers looked within themselves and taught us what they know so we can look within as well. That has been the message since the beginning so shall it be in the end. And in terms of fighting spirit, my mum, she doesn’t give up and is patient; and the latter part, I’m still learning though. In high school I knew I was the best athlete, but results after a race proved me wrong as I did not win some of my races; it’s just i had not figured out why but within I knew I was the best and I trained hard and I did become the best in the whole school and people were surprised wondering where I had been all the years, but I knew myself I was the best within, so that story inspires me a lot.

Who are some of the Blackarmoor ambassadors?

There is too many to mention as everyone who wear our brand is an ambassador; most tell us that people stop them or ask them where they got it from as the brand speaks for itself and there are maybe well known people who have rocked it or expressed interest in being ambassadors like Sizzla, Gyptian, Shingai Shonhiwa, Oliver Mtukudzi, Chiwoniso, Dhadza D, Gabriella Witek (British Skating team), B Kay n Kazz, Daison Kugz, Carol Nyazika, Dione Sakupwanya, Jusa Dementor, and recently DJ Cleo and DJ Oskido, South African music icons, who want to rock it for their tour in May (5-6/ 2012) and FUBU CEO Dymond John the message he sent us for being nominated warrants him as an ambassador.

And who would you like to see wearing Blackarmoor?

Yourself for starters and everyone really because it is a brand for people who are intelligent in different ways – Tinie Tempah, Thandie Newton, Stella McCartney, 50cent, Daymond John, Sean Combs (high time he wears mine, I’ve been wearing his for ages!) and all who know they are special.

Where can fans of the brand buy your creations?

Our website www.blackarmoorclothing.co.uk will be up and running from the 7th of April. Our Facebook page: BlackarmoorClothing Brand. Phone 07985510525, Twitter @Blackarmoor or [email protected]

How does it feel being nominated in the urban fashion category of the ZAAs and what would it mean to win this award?

It’s a a good feeling, it means people out there have been touched by what we are about and doing and we are grateful for those who were, it gives us energy to strive even further. We are proud of what Conrad is doing for our nation putting us on the map from another end as there is lots who are doing it differently and inspiring which is what we are about, so winning this would only help us to get our message across to say it’s not too late to start; as long as you start, you can be what you want to be. We will soon be working with underprivileged kids from inner city London with Toch ltd in association with 02 and Croydon Council, so it gives hope to these kids we want to inspire and us a bigger voice.

What’s next in 2012 and beyond for Blackarmoor?

Get more machines so we can do more by ourselves and for others as well, we will be releasing very nice varsity jackets we have been hiding as people want to get them off us before their time and nice sweatshirts with wonderful designs.

And our classic question with a twist: What is FAB about being Zimbabwean?

You know knowing that we are the people who built the Great Zimbabwe monuments that still stand to this day, the mathematics that was used, knowing we are one of those people makes me proud to be Zimbabwean, and the 7th wonder of the world is with us as 7 is a special number it validates how special and powerful we are if only we realised. The loyalty of Zimbabweans is gold; whether you are good or bad, they are loyal and loyalty binds the heavens so I’m proud of that. Our humanity, it’s easy for us to laugh; I think we are the most smiley people in the world.


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