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Where Kenya stands in the fashion industry

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Where Kenya stands in the fashion industry

by Lucy Wanjiku Mwangi

7d2dd38e3bKenya has shown progress through having creative fashion designers with glamorous pieces from our traditions and in the latest designs. These designers participate and showcase their pieces during functions such as fashion weeks. A fashion week is a fashion industry event, lasting approximately one week, which allows fashion designers to display their latest collections in runway shows and buyers and the media to take a look at the latest trends. This is a good way of marketing the designs that are for that particular season. Most importantly, these events let the industry know what’s “in” and what’s “out” for the season.

In Kenya, this is the 4th season of a fashion week; however, Fashion week happens twice a year in the major fashion capitals of the world: Paris, Milan, New York and London. Fashion weeks are held several months in advance of the season to allow the press and buyers a chance to preview fashion designs for the following season. This is also to allow time for retailers to arrange to purchase or incorporate the designers into their retail marketing. The latest innovations in dress designs are showcased by renowned fashion designers during these fashion weeks, and all these latest collections are covered in magazines and in newspapers.

Trendz Kenya Fashion Festival, Sub Saharan Africa’s most beloved Fashion Event, Brain Child of Sonu Sharma has evolved to become Kenya Fashion Week now into its 4th season. The event has become a focus for a broader base of fashion linked activities with mainstream regional and international designers, high profile labels, sponsors and media choosing to align with this event. This has opened doors for the growth of Kenyan fashion to keep up with the ever revolving world. Kenya Fashion Week sponsor is Brand Vaseline which is co-sponsored by Samsung Electronics and Jameson Select.

Well, the Kenya fashion week has the aim of exposing Kenya as an established fashion and urban lifestyle capital of Africa. This makes Kenya a target of many buyers and promoters of the designers. The fashion week also attract competition which leads to growth of fashion in Kenya. Other objectives of this fashion week include building relationships, creating opportunities and encouraging excellence in quality. When there is a place to show your designs and get to attract retailers, buyers and the media, then the designers are motivated to work hard and come up with new pieces for different seasons.

The last Kenya fashion week was held on 24 Aug 2013 at Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi. It consisted of various fine designers from Africa and around the world showcasing exquisite collections, world class entertainment, exhibits of lifestyle and luxury products and services, VIP Red Carpet Dinner and reception and the after party. The efforts of these fashion promoters should be recognized as they strive to contribute to the world of Fashion with the endearing support of the Fashion Fraternity and organizing this event.

Such a fashion week event includes exhibits, runway shows and the party part for exchange of ideas and where the designers get contacts and contracts from potential buyers in attendance. This is a way of contributing to togetherness of our country and a way of promoting growth ofour economy. This allows Kenyans to become aware of the designs that can be created within and from outside our country and for them to choose from a variety. So the next time a fashion week is held in Kenya, ensure you attend, you might get that particular design that will set you apart in the crowd!

The fashion week hosted designers from all over the world. These included Suzaan Heyns from South Africa, Ruald Rheeder from South Africa, Dev R Nil from India, Estella Ogbonna of Estella Couture from USA, Hakeem Balogun with Kimono Kollection from Nigeria, Kushweet Bharij who is based in Kenya, Chauvin Buthaud – Laurence & Christina Schatzeden – Laurenceairline from Ivory Coast, Yvonne Mwosu of Vonne Couture in Nigeria, Nadir Tati from Angola, Shahida Zia – Zenia Coutoure from Pakistan, Tina Ndidi Ugo- Didi Creations in Nigeria, Dave who is based here in Kenya and finally Yvonne Odhiambo & Gloria Baraza of Afrostreet Kollection which is in Kenya. This shows that the fashion week had attracted designers from all over the world and was a success. These designers had various pieces which were presented for the next season. In fact, the photo shows Afrostreet Kollections’s some of the runway pieces.

However, kenya’s position on the fashion industry should not be only limited to the Kenya fashion week, there are other Kenyans who are participating in fashion industry even while abroad. Kenya’s own Eva Rogo-Levenez is based in Paris and owns her own fashion house called Ler Ligisa. It features her original designs using exclusively Kenyan textiles. It should be noted that Eva was recently invited to show her Kenya-inspired fashion at the New York Fashion Week.  Inheriting her love of fashion from both her mother and maternal grandfather who was once considered the finest tailor in Western Kenya, Eva took up designing in Kenyan fabrics with the intent to promote her country, even as she lives in Paris – the fashion capital of Europe. Such designers make Kenya’s fashion well known all over and hence making our country to be inviting to more people with intention to promote our designs.

Eva’s move to Paris has allowed her to show off Kenyan fabrics even as she’s proved that West Africans are not the only people in the continent who can create haute couture. This makes an entry point for Kenya in fashion and to create awareness of our fabrics and designs. Eva says that when she organized a fashion party in 2012 in Paris, her guests said that they did not know Kenya had beautiful fabrics. Noting that the Kenya kikoy, Maasai shuka and even the khanga are very different from the wax material frequently used in making West African fashion, Eva said her audiences were thrilled to discover that East Africa has such original and elegant couture. American friends who had seen her Ler Ligisa designs invited Eva to attend this year’s New York Fashion which was held at the National Opera Center of America on 7th Avenue in New York City recently. She showed her 15 designs of Kenyan fabric.

Through such designers who choose to market their country while living abroad, Kenya will eventually gain more fame and popularity in fashion industry. This will make our nation to be the target of many to get original fabrics and designs which are traditional and from our own culture. We indeed have beautiful cultural fabric and designs; all we need is a little more exposure to the world.


Article source: https://www.zakenya.com/Fashion/39-Where-Kenya-stands-in-the-fashion-industry.html

About the Author

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Born in the vibrant heart of Nairobi, Kenya, Wa Kimani was always destined to stand out. From the colorful markets of her hometown to the world's most sophisticated art galleries and fashion runways, her journey has been one of relentless passion and unique insights into the world of fashion and art.

From an early age, Wa's love for patterns, textures, and colors was evident. As she grew, so did her inclination towards integrating traditional Kenyan elements into modern designs. Her family often recalled her incessant sketching and her knack for turning ordinary fabrics into extraordinary ensembles.

Wa's academic pursuits led her to one of Kenya's esteemed universities, where she majored in Fine Arts with a focus on contemporary African fashion. During her years in academia, she frequently contributed articles to local magazines, always stressing the symbiotic relationship between art and fashion.

After graduating, Wa ventured into the fashion journalism scene. She quickly gained recognition as an authoritative voice, blending her keen aesthetic eye with a profound understanding of Kenya's rich artistic heritage. Her articles, deeply rooted in both tradition and modernity, have since graced the pages of international fashion and art journals.

Today, Wa Kimani is celebrated not only as an accomplished writer but also as an advocate for the fusion of traditional African art with contemporary fashion. Through her writings and collaborations with designers and artists alike, she continually strives to showcase the beauty and depth of Kenyan culture to the global audience.

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