Thursday 1st of December 2022

Nairobi, Kenya

African Fashion: David Ochieng, A Kenyan Fashion Designer, Uses Fashion To Make A Positive Impact On Kenyan Communities.

Posted On : June 20, 2022

Oscar Alochi


As an up-and-coming fashion designer, David Ochieng is creating waves. Ochieng, who put Kenya on the fashion map, remains in the community’s orbit, using fashion as a platform for social change.
David Ochieng, alias Avido, is an emerging fashion designer who mixes African designs with modern, airy tailoring. He was born in Nairobi’s enormous urban slums.

Lookslike Avido, his label, is commercial enough, with the option of customizing garments on the website. More than that, the label is devoted to Kibera, the community from which Ochieng hails.

It wasn’t simple for him to break into the fashion industry. Ochieng’s childhood was difficult because he was the firstborn in a family of four. His mother was the only breadwinner in the family.

She would do other people’s laundry and work odd jobs to help support him and his siblings. His condition was made worse by a lack of school payments.
He eventually dropped out of school while he was in form one.
Later, in order to support his mother and siblings, he would go from one construction site to the next, looking for odd jobs. He sought comfort in the new acquaintances he had made.
Unfortunately, the majority of those pals met disastrous ends: some began taking drugs, others were killed, and a significant number began to engage in criminal activity.

Ochieng’s soul searching was prompted by the fate of the majority of his companions. He would practice unheard sentences in open and lonely areas. He also moved to the Olympic area from Silangi.

Ochieng claims that this was his way of confronting his problems and beginning a new life.

“I didn’t know who to turn to for help. “You’d confide in someone, and then they’d start telling other people about your troubles,” Ochieng explained to OkayAfrica. “As a result, I began conversing with nature. I used to talk to myself all the time, even repeating my issues, and it was via this that I was able to join a dance crew.
We practiced every day in Kibera at an establishment called Olympic, which performs spoken word at weddings, political rallies, and other events. Many of the young people here are in great need.
“Drugs and criminality claim the lives of the majority of them.”

The dancers wore dreadlocks and dressed up in trendy clothes. They had no idea that their newfound pastime would be short-lived. Some of the dancers were mistaken for gangsters, resulting in their deaths.
As a result, his mother encouraged him to change his mind. She gave him two bucks from her paycheck one day. He chose to put the money into fabrics and thread for sewing.
That’s when his life took a change for the better, and he started his fashion design profession with the founding of Avido Fashion House in 2018.

“My dancing crew was a huge inspiration to me.” For our costumes, I would sketch them out.

“I discovered then that as much as I was expressing myself through dance and spoken word, I felt like I could express myself more through colors,” Ochieng explained. “I learned that depicting a person’s journey via fabrics while also displaying life lessons and hardships is magnificent.” In a sense, dancing propelled me into the fashion world.

“Fashion has allowed me to discover myself and gain a better understanding of life,” Ochieng concluded. “Fashion has also become a form of therapy for me as a way of recovering from my childhood trauma.”
Ochieng is now one of Kenya’s most well-known fashion designers. The streets of Kibera, he claims, inspire his creativity.

He also feels that Africa is a vibrant continent, and he wants the world to know that crime isn’t the main problem in urban slums.

“I’m trying to show folks how great Kibera is.” I’m not the only one with talent here; I’m sure there are some who are far more talented and superior to me, but they don’t have the opportunity to show it off “Ochieng explained. “What I’m trying to convey through the fabrics is the positivity and hope that we have here so that I don’t lose sight of my roots.”

Ochieng’s vocational training program, which he started, teaches tailoring skills to young moms and people with hearing impairments.

He feels that by empowering a woman, you are empowering the entire nation. He’s begun mentoring fifteen trained women, eight of whom have hearing impairments and seven of whom are young moms.

He has taken it upon himself to cover the education tuition of the brilliant students in his community in addition to the vocational training. He mostly targets orphans whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS infection.

He claims that if these pupils are not treated, they will wind up on the streets, succumbing to peer pressure, resulting in misidentified identities and possibly losing their lives.
“I needed someone to pay for my school costs, but no one was willing to help me.

“Paying school fees to the poor is a type of therapy for me,” Ochieng explained. “It feels like I’m healing the younger version of myself.”

He also sews school clothes for Kibera’s poor pupils. So far, Ochieng has given out 786 uniforms to students from various schools. The process begins with the identification of the recipients, in which he goes to schools at random and looks for students who have tattered uniforms and provides them with new ones.

With gratitude, Ochieng recalls the first person for whom he designed clothing: the late Ken Okoth, a member of parliament from his district. He went to parliament dressed in his clothing, bringing celebrities and other lawmakers to his work.

After that, Don Carlos, a prominent reggae artist, came to Nairobi to perform, and David approached the event’s organizer to ask if he could produce a custom shirt for him. Carlos was ecstatic when he spotted the shirt and offered Ochieng a partnership to promote his work in the Caribbean.
Ochieng has collaborated with musicians such as Romain Virgo, Usain Bolt, Bruno Mars, Ghanaian Stallion, Tarrus Riley, Connie, Inge-Lise Nielsen, Everton Blendah, and others as a result of that encounter.
His biggest break occurred when he was included in Beyoncé’s album Black King, which helped him launch his career.

Ochieng’s garments are now worn all over the world, from Africa to Europe, as well as the United States and the Caribbean. But, for him, African identity is paramount, as evidenced by his work and designs.

Content Courtesy of Okay Africa & NFH

Oscar Alochi


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