African Talent Leather Design Showcase 2023 Winner: Dorcas Rutendo Shoko

Showcase Winner: Dorcas Rutendo Shoko

African Talent Leather Design Showcase 2023 Winner: Dorcas Rutendo Shoko

1st December 2023

Dorcas Shoko is a 19 year old student from Harare, Zimbabwe. Having studied A-Level Art, Maths and Physics at Lomagundi College, Dorcus is looking to progress into the fashion industry. She is currently working as a student designer under the brand Dorchael Enterprises Pvt Ltd. Born into a family in the leather industry, she expresses a desire to fuse her knowledge of creative art with leather to create fashion focused products. She is passionate about expanding her knowledge within the design world in order to render solutions for socio-economic challenges.

 

INTERVIEW WITH DORCAS

 

Tell us about the inspiration behind your project:

I want to make a positive impact in the leather world, so my project was inspired by the marginalised women of Zimbabwe that have resorted to craft as a means of income for their families. I want to offer the weaving craft community a leather fashionable designing experience.

One of the major organisations that aid the rural folk weaving industry under ‘The Woven Basket Export Program’ is ZimTrade, Zimbabwe’s governing body for export promotion. Thankfully, I have networked with Zimtrade and they have offered their support. While using reeds to weave baskets these women produce excellent products with little return for their hard work. By incorporating vegetable tanned leather instead of just reeds and grasses the final product is anastatically and qualitatively enhanced, leaving women in the rural areas with better financial rewards for their hard work.

Global trends are gravitating towards sustainable eco-systems. Vegetable tanning offers eco-friendly leather with  an easy end-of-life biodegradability.

What do you think makes leather a great material to design with?

Leather products have a prolonged life span, eminently repairable and can be repurposed or readily composted at the end of the products life. It is versatile in the design world. Leather can be used in so many ways, giving a variety of textures unlike synthetic materials. Leather itself is an investment for those that truly understand its worth. With time leather ages like fine wine becoming vintage.

 

What has been your experience in working with leather for this competition?

Working with leather  in this competition has definitely broadened my understanding and knowledge about the different ways leather can be used and how much it can benefit us. Others only know leather from its raw state and others from its finished products, being in this competition has allowed me to experience the entire value chain from farming through tanning to manufacturing and retail. It has awakened me to the reality of art as a tool applicable to day to day socio-economic dynamics of design life.

 

Click here to learn about the Africa Design Competition.

Click here to learn more about leather and sustainability.