Recycled paper beads and discarded mosquito nets: innovating the everyday

Commonwealth Fashion Council

Explore the exchange story of designer Haute Baso from Rwanda and artisans Ihato from Uganda and find out how they created their look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, 2018. 

“We know that to empower a woman is to empower her community.”
Linda Mukangoga
The Exchange: Rwanda x Uganda
For The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange 2018, designer Haute Baso exchanged with artisans Ihato to create a look that celebrates traditions in both countries. The look was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on February 19, 2018, and later moved to the Australian High Commission, London, where it was open to the public in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, April 2018.
Rwanda: Designer Haute Baso
Haute Baso is an ethical fashion brand established in February 2014 by two young Rwandan designers. Linda Mukangoga, one of the founders, had a background working in product development in collaboration with traditional female artisan cooperatives to produce handicrafts for the international market. Having worked on lines that were carried by international retail brands like Anthropologie, Mukangoga recognised the economic and social potential “Made in Rwanda” creates. The training and employment opportunities paired with a transparent value chain are a vital part of their ethos. 

The Haute Baso Aesthetic

The Haute Baso aesthetic is underpinned by Rwanda’s vibrant culture and history – placing pattern on pattern, with clashing colours and bold stripes, fine embroidery and layers of lace. Pierra Ntayombya now serves as the CEO as the brand grows into new markets.

Uganda: Artisans Ihato
Ihato translates to ‘internal determination and resilience’ and was the name chosen by Ugandan sisters Sandra and Sohia Muhwezi for their brainchild Ihato, a platform that showcases the talent and craftsmanship of East Africa. Using their natural surroundings and tribal traditions as inspiration, the Ihato craftsmen create jewellery pieces and fashion accessories using locally sourced materials, from sawdust to sand, recycled glass to clay mixed with cowhorn beads, Ashanti blackbeads, hornbeads and ostrich egg shell. 

Locally sourced materials

Jewellery pieces by Ihato created using locally sourced materials, from sawdust to sand, recycled glass to clay mixed with cowhorn beads, Ashanti blackbeads, hornbeads and ostrich egg shell.

The story behind the look
Pierra Ntayombya, the creative director of Haute Baso, created a look using wool and upcycled mosquito nets, embellished with upcycled beads from traditional accessories such as necklaces and bracelets, and handmade beads from Ugandan jewellery maker Ihato.

Illustration of the look


Beading used for the top of Haute Baso's Commonwealth Fashion Exchange look

Recycled materials

The beads are made from recycled paper, which is then cut into triangular shapes, rolled and glued, and finished with varnish.

Recycled mosquito nets

The top is made from a locally sourced mosquito net, naturally dyed grey using fermented cassava. Conventional insecticide treated mosquito nets are only effective for 6 to 12 months therefore thousands of mosquito nets are disposed of annually to protect people from Malaria.

Final look on display at Buckingham Palace, 19 February 2018

Final look on display at the Australian High Commission, London, 22 February 2018

Credits: Story

This content has been specifically curated for the Google Arts & Culture platform on behalf of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange exhibition that launched on the 19th of February at Buckingham Palace in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.

The project, created and managed by Eco-Age, with the support of The Commonwealth Fashion Council and The British Fashion Council.

More information about the images is available by clicking on them.
Read more about the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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