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Friday 14th of June 2024

Nairobi, Kenya

Innovative Threads: An Exclusive Interview with Munyengango Jean De Dieu, Founder of DK Heritage Ltd

Posted On : May 22, 2024

Oscar Alochi

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Munyengango Jean De Dieu is a Rwandan artist and the innovative founder of DK Heritage Ltd, a fashion house renowned for its unique fusion of traditional African aesthetics and contemporary design. With a deep passion for cultural heritage and modern fashion, Munyengango has carved out a distinctive niche in the fashion industry, earning acclaim for his visionary approach and commitment to empowering African artisans and models.

Born and raised in Rwanda, Munyengango developed an early interest in art and design. His formative years were influenced by Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage, which played a significant role in shaping his artistic vision. From a young age, Munyengango was fascinated by the vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and symbolic meanings embedded in traditional African textiles and attire. This cultural appreciation would later become the cornerstone of his fashion philosophy.

Munyengango’s passion for fashion and design led him to establish DK Heritage Ltd. The brand was created with a mission to celebrate and preserve African cultural heritage while innovatively blending it with contemporary fashion trends. DK Heritage Ltd stands out for its dedication to showcasing the beauty and diversity of African textiles, designs, and craftsmanship.

Ann Mumbi: Brief introduction about yourself and your fashion house (Brand)
Munyengango Jean De Dieu: I am Munyengango Jean De Dieu, a Rwandan artist and the founder of DK Heritage Ltd, a fashion house that blends traditional African aesthetics with modern styles. Our brand is dedicated to celebrating African heritage through bold, innovative designs.

AM: As a fashion designer in Kenya, what are some of the specific challenges you’ve encountered when working with models, and how do you overcome them?
MJDD: One of the significant challenges I face is matching models with the right outfits. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the perfect fit, but we overcome this by holding fittings to ensure each model looks their best in our designs.

AM: Can you discuss the process of selecting models for your fashion shows or campaigns and the criteria you look for in potential collaborators?
MJDD: When selecting models, I consider the outfits and the concept of the event. For collaborations, I look for a shared vision and passion between myself and my partners. It’s crucial that we align on our goals and creative direction.

 

AM: How do you ensure that your designs are inclusive and suitable for a diverse range of body types and sizes?
MJDD: I create designs based on the measurements of our models to ensure inclusivity and suitability for various body types. This approach ensures that everyone looks and feels great in our clothing.

AM: Have you faced any difficulties in finding models who accurately represent the vision and aesthetic of your brand, and how have you addressed this challenge?
MJDD: I haven’t faced significant difficulties because I take the time to select models who can embody our brand’s vision. By working closely with them, we achieve the desired look and feel.

AM: Can you share any strategies you use to foster a positive and collaborative relationship with models during fittings and photoshoots?
MJDD: Open communication is key. I make an effort to converse with my models, motivate them, and discuss their future careers. This builds a positive atmosphere and strengthens our collaboration.

AM: What steps do you take to ensure that the models wearing your designs feel comfortable and confident on the runway or in front of the camera?
MJDD: Comfort and confidence start with the design process. I always consider the comfort of the models when creating outfits, ensuring they can move and perform with ease.

AM: How do you navigate the balance between artistic expression and practical considerations when designing garments for models to wear?
MJDD: Balancing artistic expression with practicality is essential. As an artist, it’s important to merge creativity with functionality, making it easier to produce wearable yet visually striking designs.

AM: Can you discuss the importance of communication and teamwork between fashion designers and models in bringing a collection to life?
MJDD: Effective communication and teamwork are crucial. Models bring our designs to life on the runway, so it’s essential that we share our experiences and work passionately together to achieve the best results.

AM: Have you encountered any issues related to diversity and representation within the modeling industry, and how do you address these concerns in your work?
MJDD: Sometimes models may feel competitive, but as a designer, I encourage teamwork and unity. By fostering a collaborative spirit, we can overcome these challenges and promote diversity.

AM: Can you share any experiences where you’ve had to adapt your designs or styling to accommodate the needs or preferences of models?
MJDD: There have been instances where a model might refuse to wear a chosen outfit. In such cases, we adapt by selecting different attire that suits them better, ensuring they are comfortable and confident.

AM: How do you incorporate feedback from models into your design process, and how does this collaboration influence the final outcome?
MJDD: Models often provide valuable feedback, which I incorporate into my designs. Their input helps refine the final product and ensures that it meets both aesthetic and functional requirements.

AM: Can you discuss the impact of social media on the relationship between fashion designers and models in Kenya?
MJDD: Social media has greatly facilitated connections and collaborations. It allows us to showcase our creativity and reach a wider audience, making it easier to network and promote our work.

AM: What initiatives or changes would you like to see within the Kenyan fashion industry to better support models and designers alike?
MJDD: I would like to see more government support in terms of lower taxes and more opportunities to export our products and services. This would significantly boost the industry.

AM: How do you ensure that the working conditions and treatment of models involved in your projects align with ethical standards and values?
MJDD: I prioritize the health and safety of my models, ensuring that our working environments are safe and comfortable for everyone involved.

AM: Can you share any stories of overcoming challenges or obstacles in your collaborations with models and the lessons you’ve learned from these experiences?
MJDD: There have been times when models arrived late. To solve this, I cover their transport costs, ensuring they arrive on time and we maintain a smooth workflow.

AM: What measures do you take to ensure diversity and inclusivity are reflected not only in your designs but also in the models you choose to represent your brand?
MJDD: I select models of various sizes, typically medium and small, to represent the diverse range of body types and ensure inclusivity in our brand.

AM: How do you address the issue of body image and self-esteem within the modeling industry through your work as a fashion designer?
MJDD: I ensure that the models’ appearances complement the outfits perfectly. Fitting sessions are crucial for addressing body image concerns and boosting self-esteem.

AM: Can you discuss the role of fashion designers in promoting positive body image and self-confidence among models and consumers alike?
MJDD: As a designer, creating outfits that attract and empower audiences can significantly boost the confidence of the wearer. It’s important to design clothing that makes people feel good about themselves.

AM: Have you implemented any specific policies or practices within your brand to support the mental and emotional well-being of models?
MJDD: I haven’t implemented specific policies yet, but I plan to focus on this in the future to ensure our models’ mental and emotional well-being.

AM: Can you share any insights into the process of creating garments that are both visually striking on the runway and practical for models to wear?
MJDD: The process begins with creative design, selecting the right materials and accessories, and taking precise measurements. After completing the outfit, we hold fittings to ensure practicality and visual appeal.

AM: How do you ensure that your designs empower models to express themselves authentically and confidently?
MJDD: My models often express delight in my unique designs, which empowers them to wear the outfits confidently and authentically, making them eager to work with me again.

AM: Can you discuss any instances where you’ve collaborated with models to challenge traditional beauty standards or perceptions of fashion?
MJDD: I create unique outfits for showcases that challenge traditional beauty standards and surprise the audience, promoting a broader acceptance of diverse fashion aesthetics.

AM: What do you hope to achieve through your collaborations with models, and how do you envision the future of fashion modeling in Kenya?
MJDD: I hope to elevate my brand and the modeling industry by fostering collaborations that help both designers and models grow. I envision a future where Kenyan fashion modeling thrives globally.

AM: How can clients contact you, and can you share your contact details and social media handles?
MJDD: Clients can reach me through my social media platforms. I am available on Instagram and Facebook, and they can also approach me directly for collaborations.

AM: Who inspired you, and who do you admire working within the fashion industry in Kenya and internationally?
MJDD:My father is my inspiration. I aspire to work with passionate designers both in Kenya and internationally, continually pushing the boundaries of fashion.

 


DK Heritage Ltd. is more than just a fashion brand; it is a movement that seeks to empower African artisans and models by providing them with a global platform. Munyengango’s vision is to create clothing that tells a story—each piece is meticulously designed to reflect the rich history and vibrant culture of Africa. His designs often feature bold colors, striking patterns, and modern interpretations of traditional African symbols and motifs.

Navigating the fashion industry in Kenya, where DK Heritage Ltd. is based, has not been without its challenges. Munyengango has faced obstacles such as matching models with the right outfits and ensuring inclusivity in his designs. However, his commitment to excellence and innovation has enabled him to overcome these hurdles. Under his leadership, DK Heritage Ltd. has grown to become one of East Africa’s leading fashion brands, with a strong presence in both the local and international markets.

A key aspect of Munyengango’s work is his focus on inclusivity and empowerment. He is dedicated to creating opportunities for models and artisans, ensuring they are fairly represented and appreciated. His approach involves close collaboration with models, taking into account their feedback, and ensuring they feel comfortable and confident in his designs. This has fostered a positive and supportive environment within the DK Heritage Ltd. team.

Munyengango is also committed to giving back to the community. He advocates for government support to reduce taxes and create more opportunities for local designers and models. Looking ahead, he aims to expand DK Heritage Ltd’s reach, further promoting African fashion on the global stage and continuing to innovate in design and production.

Inspired by his father and driven by a passion for fashion, Munyengango admires and seeks to collaborate with other passionate designers both within Kenya and internationally. His goal is to continue learning and growing, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to the fashion industry.

Munyengango Jean De Dieu is a visionary leader in the fashion world, dedicated to blending traditional African heritage with modern fashion trends. Through DK Heritage Ltd, he has created a platform that not only showcases the beauty of African culture but also empowers models and artisans. His journey reflects a deep commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and cultural preservation, making him a prominent figure in the African fashion industry.

The interview highlights Munyengango Jean De Dieu’s thoughtful approach to fashion design and collaboration with models, providing insights into his brand and vision for the industry.

Content courtesy of DK Heritage Ltd & NFH Digital Team

Oscar Alochi

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