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Fashion Designer Matthew Rugamba ’13 Highlighted in CNN’s African Voices

February 13, 2017

  • Credit: Les Grands Esprits

In the few short years since graduating with a degree in international affairs, Matthew Rugamba ’13 has become a rising young star in African fashion. Rugamba’s Kigali-based fashion line House of Tayo was recently featured in the CNN series African Voices, which recognized his artistic innovation on traditional African designs. The series cheered Rugamba as one of Africa’s “dazzling trendsetters who create their own subcultures in areas such as travel, fashion, art, music, technology, and architecture.”

Following his sophomore year at Lewis & Clark, Rugamba spent the summer in Rwanda when inspiration struck at a local marketplace. Rugamba became determined to showcase African culture through style, balancing the contemporary with the traditional to produce designs that paid respect to African heritage in a marketplace saturated with Westernized interpretations.

A Davis United World College Scholar who came to Lewis & Clark from the Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa in Swaziland, Rugamba was making waves in fashion before even completing his bachelor’s degree. In 2012, he was selected as one of fifty designers to participate in African Fashion Week London. In an interview with CNBC Africa, Rugamba explains that an international affairs degree was a natural predecessor to his fashion career.

Rugamba at Africa Fashion Week in LondonRugamba at Africa Fashion Week in London

“It’s funny how much my international relations background has impacted what I am doing now,” Rugamba noted. “My adviser said ‘do what you want to do’, and told me that through fashion and design, I would probably have a greater impact in the field of international relations than some of my peers who were going to grad school or doing a PhD.”

Watch Rugamba’s segment on CNN Africa or check out House of Tayo on Instagram.

International Affairs Department

International Students and Scholars

This story was written by Scout Brobst ’20.


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