In a defiant mission titled RETURN TO SENDER, BUZIGAHILL transforms second-hand garments into high fashion and redistributes them to their origins in the Global North. As a purpose-driven, green company working towards a circular economy, BUZIGAHILL operates between fashion, art, education, and activism to mitigate the environmental impact of fast fashion production and to create sustainable, fulfilling jobs in Uganda.

In this diary, specially compiled and adapted for The Eye, BUZIGAHILL shares excerpts from their newsletters from Kampala, with stories from the behind the scenes and features of inspiring projects from within their community.

30.07.2023: The Studio

This time last year, when we moved out of Bobby’s living room into our studio, we were a team of six. We’re now 13 and packing our bags again because we’ve outgrown the apartment we’re renting above Walusimbi’s Garage on Dewinton Road.


A special shout-out to Desire, our Studio-Wellbeing Manager, whose name obviously befits the job. Desire keeps us all organised, well-fed and hydrated. The one voice you will always hear at the studio is her’s, often on the phone trying to find out what happened to the internet.

30.07.2023: Selfridges

One of our recent highlights was DROP 04 at the Lagos Fashion Week pop up at Selfridges. For the first time, RETURN TO SENDER was physically available in London, on Oxford Street. It was just after coronation weekend, Union Jacks fluttered from everywhere. Of course, we’re no strangers to the flag — it’s printed on the labels in bales we receive from the UK.


We went back to London for DROP05 a month later and released it with our friends at HAUS, a vinyl-coffee-plant shop in Brixton (ask for Simone’s life-changing mushroom tea). Thanks for the music Josh Caffé, Leala Rain and DJ Mapengo.

16.08.2023: The Studio 

We moved our studio into Spear Motors House, where Creative Director Bobby Kolade once worked as a teenage presenter for WBS TV. Who remembers Teen’s Club?


Entering this building is like crossing into West Germany in the 70s. Think: brown. The beams, ceiling boards, doors, windows, lights and tiles… this entire structure was shipped from West Germany and put together like a grand Ravensburger puzzle.


Completed in 1986, it was home to Spear Motors, the sole Mercedes distributor in Uganda. Some things have changed since then. The showroom with shiny Benzes is now a (spacious) beauty salon. WBS TV is defunct. But the neighborhood still has that sleepy feeling about it despite being in the city center, and this young team is here to shake things up.


16.08.2023: Botteg 

We often fear that a ban on second-hand clothes in Uganda would trigger a rise in designer dupes from China. Knock-offs of LV, Dior, Gucci and Chanel are ubiquitous: These logos are part of our visual landscape in every skewed and misspelt form they come in. Who’s surprised anymore to see a Louis Vuhtoh T-shirt?


Curiously, the more black influencers and celebrities we see in the front rows at luxury brands’ shows, the more these brands pop up in downtown Kampala. These days, we’re spotting more Bottega (or Botegga, or Botteg, or Boltega). China is watching. Black celebrity fashion in the Global North has a direct influence on style choices in Kampala.


01.12.2023: The Milaya Project

The stars of DROP06 are undoubtedly the Milaya suit jackets, which have been on a long journey and took months to develop. Sourced from a bale of suits which originated in the UK, the jackets were embellished with traditional South Sudanese embroidery by the Yangani Women’s Group and Milaya Project at Bidi Bidi refugee settlement (an 11 hour drive from Kampala).


The unique artwork is entirely inspired by floral forms and techniques from the women’s own Milaya sheets, which are traditionally used for dowries and celebrations. When they fled the civil war in 2017, South Sudanese women carried their possessions wrapped in their Milaya sheets. In these sheets, they also carried their artistry and pride.

02.01.2024: Smile, You’re in Sharjah

When BUZIGAHILL was invited to exhibit at the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, we were confused. We may be building an industry in Uganda, but we’re not architects and none of us can use Auto CAD. After a few Zoom calls though, everything made perfect sense.

For the exhibition, our production studio in Kampala was carefully recreated at the Al Qasimiyah School in Sharjah, and for the duration of the opening week, our entire production team was flown in to perform the defiant act of RETURN TO SENDER. Bales of second-hand clothes were specifically sourced from a sorting facility in one of Sharjah’s Free Zones – we were not surprised to find that the quality of clothing was far better than any bale we’ve unpacked in Kampala.


RETURN TO SENDER as a performance was immersive: Visitors were invited to experience our labour-intensive production processes first-hand. Some tried their hands at macramé knotting, some tried on the pieces being made and many shared stories about second-hand clothing in their parts of the world.


Two visiting architects from Addis Ababa felt a strong sense of familiarity when they entered our installation: It was the smell. The smell of unaired, used clothes is part of the architecture of most African cities.


02.01.2024: Returning 1700 Pairs of Blue Jeans

BUZIGAHILL is proud to have produced official merchandise for the Sharjah Architecture Triennial.

Global merchandise production for any event (from sustainability summits to the NFL) makes up a substantial part of the global second-hand clothing trade. Cheap event merchandise is in itself a form of single-use fast fashion.


It took us three defiant months to source and dismantle 1700 pairs of jeans from Owino Market in Kampala and produce 1000 tote bags and 500 bucket hats. Upcycling, redesigning or repurposing (call it what you will) are ideas that are often challenged for their price point and scalability. Our argument is quite clear: We can do it.

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