Reuben and Lévi are 27-year-old twins from Rwanda. At the young age of 7, they fled their country because of the genocide. With their family, they drove to the DRC, then flew to Kenya to avoid the carnage that left 800,000 dead in 100 days. After living in Kenya for a while, they emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, and eventually and launched their clothing brand.
From Kigali to the New York Fashion Week
The Uwi twins made their New York Fashion Week debut this year featuring their third collection called I Left My Heart in Africa. The two brothers started their career in the fashion world when they were teenagers. They launched a T-shirt line called R&U Styles that was later picked up by a large deparment store chain in Canada. Instead of going to college, the twins chose to learn by doing and launched their second brand called Uwi Twins in 2014.
“This brand is about inspiring the underdog and with this collection, yeah it is inspired by Africa, but it’s also for anyone who feels like they’re down,” one of them said.
Inspired in the Motherland
In order to prepare for the I Left My Heart in Africa collection, the brothers returned to Africa for the first time in 17 years.
“It was a huge contrast from the last time we were there. We were very fortunate enough to be in a position where we had a lot of opportunities ahead of us and so, when we were designing the collection, we definitely felt very blessed and very humbled,” Levi said in a press conference.
The collection carries an artistic street wear feel. It comprises T-shirts, shorts, but also dressier clothes such as blazers and dresses. Several pieces incorporate details from their personal experiences such as their birth year, 1987, and a photo of them as child refugees.
“We definitely want to be that bridge between North America and Africa when it comes to modern fashion designers,” Reuben said backstage. “With sharing our story, we hope to inspire or spark motivation in young designers and entrepreneurs, or someone who wants to pursue their passion.”