Interview: Anne-Marie Weeden of FashionCorps

Fashioncorps Kampala

I’ll never forget my first trip to Africa, a volunteer stint in the Nairobi slums. In preparation, I joyfully skipped through the aisles of Old Navy, buying ribbed layering tanks in 8 different colors and a few pairs of boyish cargo pants that can roll up into shorts. The more pockets the better, right?! Add in a few floor-length skirts and my personal favorite–a pair of chunky, toe-hugging Chacos– and I was ready to go!

I’m guessing many of us, when first traveling to Africa, had the similar misunderstanding of what you can really wear around here.  Some of us have what I like to call our “African wardrobe.” You know—the  items we’d never pack when on holiday in our home country. We insist on hanging onto stuff like worn blouses, old jeans, or hideous sandals simply because they “work” around here.

As you can see, I had a lot of misconceptions of what I can really wear in Africa! The amazing reality is—in Kampala, you can dress like yourself or, in some cases, just a more modest version of yourself! Can we all get on the same page and declare together: No more separate “African wardrobes!”

The only hurdle that remains: where do I shop in Kampala?

This week I interviewed Anne-Marie Weeden, co-owner of local business FashionCorps. Anne-Marie and her business partner, Celesta Duivenvoorde, recently took over the business as the original founders, Brooke Bocast and Nina Larsen, were transitioning out of Kampala.

Background and Concept

FashionCorps started in early 2011 with the dream of providing women in Kampala with high-quality fashion found right here in the city. Their concept is simple: they search high and low through Owino Market to find the nicest clothing, so that you don’t have to!

Each month, Anne-Marie and Celesta take on Owino Market an average of 3-4 times and dig through multiple stalls for the very best finds. Every garment is always checked for quality, then cleaned and pressed in preparation for their monthly sales event.

Fashioncorps Kampala

Anne-Marie reflects, “It takes time and energy. It’s a lot of effort, but I can see the value of FashionCorps. The idea is to cut out the headache of having to go shop at Owino. The designer stuff is there. Lots of items with the price tag still on, just a little market dust on it!”

What’s the Inventory Like?

Be prepared for the following sentence to completely blow your mind: They find designer clothes at Owino Market! In addition to lower-priced street labels like H&M, Mossimo, and Ann Taylor, they find prime designer pieces by Stella McCartney, Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, and that’s just the beginning. At the moment, they’re only offering women’s clothing but hope to branch into the men’s and children’s markets someday.

Can I Come?!

Absolutely! In an effort to be accessible to women across the city, FashionCorps’ new owners have decided to diversify their sale location, hosting the event at private homes around the city that vary each month. You can like FashionCorps on Facebook or sign up for their mailing list to stay connected for upcoming events.

According to Anne-Marie, “Our events are very simple and relaxed. After all, it’s not a public place; it’s a private home. Come on in, rack up, grab a glass of wine, and browse at your leisure, not in a crowded market. You’ll even have a bedroom or bathroom to try stuff on before purchasing!”

I don’t know about you, but I like the sound of wine and an enjoyable shopping experience on a Saturday afternoon. Hope to see you there!

About Lauren McBride

Hey, I’m Lauren. I’m what you’d call an “expat by marriage.” When my husband and I stepped off the plane in Entebbe in June 2012, I had no idea what I was in for: the breezy traffic on the open road, enjoyable boda rides through the heart of town, or the gentle, lingering smell of exhaust blowing in my face. I continue to be amazed by the strong community in Kampala, the arts, the delicious food, and the fun hangs around this town. I’m committed to sharing the very best of Kampala with you through this website. Contact me anytime with your ideas, feedback, or jokes at lauren@livinginkampala.com.