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Using Fashion as a Uniting Factor in South Sudan

Following a 5½-year-civil war and as intercommunal clashes continue, fashion is not the first thing that usually springs to mind for many about South Sudan. But a small group of young fashion designers say they want to help change the country’s image by showcasing locally designed clothes that are increasingly capturing eyes in the fashion world. “If we can come up with something that can help us boost and empower ourselves, then we can do it,” said Ghum Barnabas Kulang, founder of Kulang Enterprises. Kulang began creating his own designs in 2019 with a focus on fashionable suits and colorful dresses made from African prints. He believes creating a national brand is important for the morale of South Sudanese people. About a dozen designers earlier this month put on the sixth annual South Sudan Fashion Week in the capital, Juba. The show’s founder, Dawson Dau Amou, a successful East African model, wants to change the world’s focus on South Sudan from a war-torn country to a nation that can build on self-sustaining enterprise. There are no compiled business figures for South Sudan’s nascent fashion industry. But the designs are attracting attention in the diaspora. South Sudanese fashion designers displayed their creations for a fashion show for the Luol Deng Foundation’s annual conference in Minneapolis in 2019.