Saturday 24th of October 2020

Nairobi, Kenya

Men’s fashion Kenya – A style evolution

Posted On : September 24, 2020

Paul Oloo

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Men’s fashion in Kenya has come a long way. A really long way. Who else remembers Fundi frank? I do. I believe he might have been the first men’s fashion designer I ever heard of in Kenya. That was way back in the early 90s.

Now the new school men’s fashion brands in Kenya have taken it to the next level. As seen in the video below.

Very interesting. The highest quality raw materials for the highest quality of men’s fashion products.

After seeing the above video, and witnessing what Terry Anne Chebet is doing with her iconic 100 Kenyan brands in 100 days challenge, I was inspired to write this post.

So without further ado, let’s take a journey through the evolution of men’s fashion in Kenya by assessing some of my favorite men’s fashion Kenyan brands.

 

The beginning

In the beginning, there were the likes of Fundi Frank and Fifth Element. Fundi Frank was a designer focused more on streetwear influenced by hip hop culture. So we’re talking about printed T-shirts and the like. Back in those days, rappers in the USA would wear oversize T-shirts with elaborate graphic prints and Timberland boots. And we in Kenya would copy their swag. Fundi Frank made a name for himself by focusing on that niche. I heard that he had a shop in South c at one point but my friends and I never got to go.

You see, there was no internet back in those days. Everything spread by word of mouth. Which serves as a testament to how big Fundi Frank was. A real urban legend.

Towards the end of the 90s and early 2000s when Nelly and Eminem were breaking into the music industry, a new brand was breaking into the Kenyan fashion industry. It was called Fifth element and it was owned by a gentleman known as Ali who had recently completed high school at Highway Secondary school in South B.

Fifth Element was a lot more serious business-wise and even set up a shop in Kileleshwa’s Kasuku Centre. The brand has undergone a metamorphosis and raised its game within the men’s fashion sector in Kenya. I believe it’s now called Dambala Sabaquo and dresses celebrities such as McDonald Mariga. Fifth Element was possibly the first men’s fashion brand in Kenya to get a respectable level of press coverage.

The Middle.

The middle ages of men’s fashion in Kenya were dominated by a single designer. His name was John Kaveke. While Fifth Element introduced the concept of utilizing media coverage to grow a men’s fashion brand, John Kaveke took it to the next level. The brand was everywhere. It was also the first men’s fashion brand to feature in international fashion shows.

I remember I once got to witness a John Kaveke fashion show at Nairobi fashion week on Ngong road. It was truly exceptional. The man had perfected the art of fashion shows and taken it to a level I’d never experienced before.

The New Age.

The new-age men’s fashion designers are interesting. They have taken quality to a whole new level as seen in the video at the beginning of this post. One of the best in the East African region has to be King Sidney. They focus strictly on men’s jackets for special occasions and have the type of product that can have any man looking like a superhero the second he slips it on. Men’s fashion in Kenya is truly in good hands.

Paul Oloo

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