Brian Ahumuza is a known name in Uganda’s men’s fashion world. In just seven years; starting in 2010, he has styled and groomed celebrities, modeled apparels, a launched an array of high end fashion shops. And he is just 27 years old and was not born anywhere near the world in which he orbits today.
As a young boy growing up in the western Uganda district of Masindi, Brian Ahumuza was passionate about dressing well and appearing smart; a tendency partly pushed by his mother.
“My mother was a tailor, an event organiser for weddings, and interior designer. She also made very nice table cloths and was known for that in Masindi town,” says Ahumuza.
What is more, his mother was always busy and away. However, she always returned a shirt, short or any clothing for Ahumuza. He was more of a mummy’s boy because his father popped in once in a while to visit as the two were never married. While she was away, Ahumuza always spent most of the early years with a maternal auntie. Even when his mother passed on when he was only eight years, Ahumuza recalls that he had clothes to last him a long time.
Her death meant Ahumuza had to cross over to Kampala to live with his father and step-mother. He recalls his auntie advising him “to prepare for the worst”.
“Behave well and never expect any soft treatment,” he recalls her words. But life appears not to have been as tough as was feared and today Ahumuza is grateful to his step-mother for having accepted him into her home.
In Masindi, Ahumuza had been studying at Asaba Primary School. Even as he coped with urban life, he was thrust into at Bugema Adventist Secondary School. As a “village boy” in the city, he did not expect be ranked among the best dressed boys both at home and at school, yet that is exactly what happened. Even when he joined Crane High School and later Lakeside College Luzira, he was noted for the same glamour and fashion and was openly admired by fellow students and some teachers. All this time, however, it did not cross his mind that his passion could one day turn into a career for him.
Ahumuza’s changed during his long vacation after senior six. He landed a cleaning job with a communications corporate company which employed many stylish people. Still Ahumuza stood out. He defied the cleaners dress code overall and rocked sharp numbers instead. Soon, other workmates were cornering him to inquire where he sourced his clothes and many were taken by surprise when he revealed that he bought them second-hand from Owino (the famous St. Balikuddembe Market in downtown Kampala.
Some of those cornering him included his bosses and other well-paid workmates who soon were sending him to buy them items like shirts and trousers because he had shown taste and had contact with the traders.
When he joined Kyambogo University in Kampala to study a degree in Social Work and Social Administration, he carried on his trade and added fellow students to the list. He also kept his job and studied as an evening student. After a year, he was promoted to Transport and Logistics manager with higher pay. He invested more in his business and in 2010 sub-rented a shop. His label; Abryanz Collections, had been born! It dealt in second-hand men’s clothing.
He promoted it with parties in the then-popular Club Silk discotheque to showcase what was available in store. Male musicians and other celebrities joined his clientele. He also rode on the power of social media for marketing. Business boomed and in the third year Ahumuza felt he was ready to hit the high street. He daringly opened a shop at the upscale Garden City Mall in Kampala.
“I wanted to stand out from other designers and that is how I came up with an exceptional campaign on men’s fashion,” he says.
“Legacy was and is still my aim,” he says.
A deeply affectionate man, he has a tattoo in the name of ‘HellenNight’ in memory of his mother and auntie.