Tuesday 21st of May 2024

Nairobi, Kenya

Through ITME Africa & Middle East 2023, Kenya Will Lead the Modernization of the African Textile Industry (30th November–2nd December).

From November 30 to December 2, 2023, representatives from 18 nations will congregate in Nairobi to create new business alliances, investigate opportunities, and connect with the region’s textile industry in order to provide brand-new client leads.
The event, which is being hosted by the India ITME Society, will give participating businesses the chance to network with importers, buyers, agents, and dealers from other African nations, including those interested in revitalizing or bolstering their textile industries, in addition to those from Kenya.

India, Turkey, Taiwan, Italy, Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Austria, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Germany, Rwanda, Spain, and other countries will be represented in ITME Africa & Middle East 2023 as textile technologists and manufacturers of machinery.

The event is being excitedly viewed by Indian businesses as a chance to increase their consumer base in the emerging and untapped markets of the Middle East and Africa.

Major brands and manufacturers have already indicated their participation in this, including Lakshmi Machine Works Ltd (LMW), A.T.E. Huber Envirotech, Luwa India, Kusters Calico, Gurjar Gravers, Hindtex Industries, Lakshmi Card Clothing, Perfect Equipments, Precision Rubber Industries, Rosari Biotech, S B Dyesprings, Weavetech Engineers, ALG Group (South Africa), Almac Laser, Yamuna Machine, Chinese, Italian, Ghanaian, Turkish, and Taiwanese national pavilions will display their countries’ technological and engineering prowess.

ITME Africa & Middle East 2023 is positioned to be more than an event or an exhibition and proposes to bring complete solutions for the textile industry to the table, affordable technology, international exposure, learning, and experience, as well as a confluence of business houses, investment opportunities, joint ventures, access to finance, and networking with technocrats and educators, paving the way for a wave of knowledge, progress, growth, and prosperity.

In order to secure their support for this event by encouraging visitor engagement activities, the India ITME Society Team individually visited the Indian Embassy, Government Organizations, and Associations in Kenya.
The Kenyan government and industry bodies firmly support this technology and business event.

In order to network with trade groups, government representatives, and industry members, there is also the option for a group industry delegation to attend the event.

Creating this opportunity for the textile industry, textile engineering, and related industries to explore new frontiers in Africa and the Middle East has taken a lot of work on the part of the India ITME Society.

By signing up on our website, www.itme-africa.com, we cordially encourage you to take part as an exhibitor or a visiting delegate.
Visit https://youtu.be/VtBqO3bxICE to watch the audiovisual presentation about the event.

We are pleased to have you attend this special occasion and eagerly await your participation in ITME Africa & Middle East 2023 – “The Right Place & the Right Time to Aspire, Compete, Explore Prosperity Through Textile Technology & Engineering.”

Content courtesy of India International Textile Machinery Exhibitions Society & NFH

Revival of Traditional African Textiles

With a long history that dates back to antiquity, African textiles have cultural importance and serve as a means of communication. They feature a variety of designs and materials and come from various origins.
Due to the demand for their vivid colors and distinctive cultural expressions, traditional African textiles are currently undergoing a rebirth.
Traditional African textiles have been made, woven, and embroidered with artistic skill since the dawn of human civilization.
These textiles represent the diverse fabric of the African continent and serve as historical documents.

African weavers and artists have been creating clothing for more than a millennium. They come from 54 countries and more than 3,000 ethnic groupings.

This type of fabric can be used to honor a particular person, remember a special moment, or even convey a political stance.
Textiles have been used to transmit important cultural knowledge in addition to being frequently at the center of festivities and events.

History of African Fabric
Ancient Egypt, where flax was woven into linen, is where the origins of African fabric production may be traced back to 5000 BC. With the production of textile-related raw materials such as tree bark, animal hides, cotton, palm, jute, flax, and silk, North Africa’s textile industry grew rapidly. Before the Dutch and the French brought in Ankara (a type of batik) and Shweshwe (a type of tie-and-dye), Africans utilized mud and texture to make straightforward designs, setting the stage for an African textile revolution.

The Dutch Wax Print also referred to as Ankara, is one of the most well-known African textiles. While occupying Indonesia, the Dutch developed the art of batik, and they also introduced Ankara to West Africa.

Wax prints started being produced in large quantities in facilities across the Netherlands and other regions of Europe. These European-made fabrics, however, were never widely accepted in their intended Asian market because the Javanese valued hand-made genuine goods over machine-made imitations.

The Dutch gave the African nations along their trade routes the materials they possessed at the beginning of the 1800s. At this time, Dutch recruits from Africa started sending gifts of fabric home.
Due in large part to the fact that there was nothing else quite like it, the distinctive, lovely cloth was quickly welcomed by West African countries, and through time, it became an essential component of their own culture.

Despite the fact that we often identify this cloth with Africa, it was not originally made or planned there. Its manufacturing was under Dutch supervision, and the Dutch cleverly redesigned it utilizing African folktales, stories, and rituals described by neighborhood traders and artisans.
Through this reworking, the fabric became a print that eventually developed into an unsaid language. The idea of employing art as a covert means of communication among tribes, nations, and women often discussing taboo subjects was accepted by the Africans.

A visual language was created by the prints, and it permeated all of Africa.
They denoted celebrations and rites of passage, communicated different messages, and portrayed varied emotions.

The Dutch dipped into African culture to make the fabrics come alive and resonate with the people of Sub-Saharan Africa because they understood that authenticity was essential to the appeal of African patterns and textiles (a lesson learned from their unsuccessful attempt to replicate the process for the Asian market).
This led to the fabric’s rapid popularization, and because it linked people to politics, religion, and culture, it gained the name “African Print.”

We may make a lot of cultural similarities by looking at African patterns and textiles. Despite the fact that cotton and silk make up the majority of the base materials, the origins of the fabrics are ultimately determined by the designs.

Origin of African Fabrics

The bold motifs, inventive patterns, and unapologetically vivid color palettes of African fabrics have earned them acclaim around the world. Similar to their Asian counterparts, these fabrics are steeped in rich culture, history, and customs and express the essence of life while bringing vibrancy to daily existence.
Fashion and interior design trends around the world are clearly influenced by African fabrics.

As was already said, the history of the textile business in Africa dates back to 5000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians first started growing flax and weaving it into linen.
A scene of weavers working a horizontal loom is depicted in artwork from the 12th dynasty, which was discovered in the tomb of Khnumhotep (about 2400 BC). Pyramids, artwork, and hieroglyphs all depict cloth-draped Egyptians in great detail.

As evidenced by the statues of the great queen Amanishakheto, pharaoh Piye, and the Meroitic pyramids, even the Egyptians’ southern neighbors, the Nubians, had a thriving textile industry.

Later, as numerous African civilizations rose to prominence, cotton became a common material. Weavers were present in Timbuktu and the Mali empire in the 1300s, according to traveler Ibn Battuta. The boubou, a traditional long garment, became increasingly popular as Islam spread over West Africa.
Africa now has a thriving textile heritage. Mali is the place where the hand-woven Bogolan, often called “mud cloth,” originated. In the past, only royalty could buy versions of Ghana’s national fabric, the kente cloth, which was sewn with gold threads.

According to legend, British explorers were impressed by the splendor of an Ashanti king’s apparel.
Fabric manufactured from tree bark has a long history in Cameroon, with some fabrics made exclusively from obom. Clothing and bags are still made from raffia fibers.

The finest weavers in the nation also create the intricately woven clothing used by West Cameroon’s rulers, which is embellished with beads.
While Pygmies employ bark fabric created from tropical fig trees, people in Chad and the Central African Republic weave cotton strips on horizontal looms using a variety of natural colors.

Some of the most exquisite handmade sculptures, garments, and blankets are made by the Kuba people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo using raffia.
Beautiful, bright quilts and blankets are totally handmade by the Ndebele people of South Africa and Zimbabwe, continuing a historical tradition.
Well-dressed Ndebele ladies would be admired for their grace, color, and presentation.

Popular textiles of Africa

1. Kuba Fabric
The people of the Bakuba kingdom, which was situated along the Kasai River in the contemporary Democratic Republic of Congo, created these textiles from palm fibers.
They were traditionally used for royal clothing and rugs. In the early 20th century, artists like Matisse and Picasso were influenced by the patterns on the cloth.

2. Ase Oke
The Yoruba term for “greetings on the spending of money,” Ase Oke, is the name given to a unique fabric in the Yoruba culture. Men alone weave this fabric on tiny strip looms with silk or cotton-based ingredients. Both Yoruba men and women place a high value on ase oke, which confers both aesthetic appeal and social rank on the wearer and the weaver.
When English lace that had been imported became scarce during World War II, this magnificent fabric, made by Yoruba men in Nigeria, rose to prominence.
To make up for this, delicate lace-like decorations were added to the weaves, which is a characteristic aspect that is frequently displayed in Ase Oke.

Popular Ase Oke styles include:
• Alaari: This is a rich, red Ase Oke, often worn on special occasions.
• Sanyan: This Ase Oke is brown, typically light brown in color, and is a common choice for various events.
• Etu: This dark blue Ase Oke is another popular style regularly adorned by Yoruba people.

3. The Okene Fabric
A sort of woven fabric called the Okene Cloth was developed in the Nigerian community of Okene.
The Okene is regarded as a “prestige” cloth manufactured by Ebira women using huge fixed looms inside their homes, in contrast to the Ebira men who weave on small portable looms outside.
Metallic gold or silver threads are frequently used in contemporary weaves, giving the fabric a lovely gloss.

These fabrics, which are frequently used as headwraps or wraps, elevate the status of the ladies who wear them. Additionally, they enhance the reputation of the dyers and weavers who make them.

4. Kente fabric
Of all African textiles, Kente is undoubtedly the most well-known and intricately woven. Men use a combination of small hand and foot looms to create this fabric. It is customary for members of the Ashanti royal family to don it for formal occasions like’stooling,’ a ceremony that represents ascending to the throne.

When the Ashanti display their spectacular gold jewelry and renowned golden stool at royal celebrations, the brilliant colors and geometric patterns of Kente cloth make the ideal contrast.
A stunning cloth is made by stitching together the long, narrow strips of kente that Ashanti men weave. It was originally woven with silk, especially for the Ashanti nobility.

5. Adire Fabric
Adire is a word that means “tie and dye” in Yoruba. This is a reference to the indigo-dyed textile, one of the most recognizable fabrics in Africa that is typically worn only by women. Adire cloth is made of cotton fabric that resists starch and has a design akin to batik.
The old Adire art form has been actively being revived by the artist Niki Seven.

Early in the 20th century, new methods of resist dyeing appeared, most notably the technique of hand-painting designs on the fabric with a paste made of cassava root before dying. Adire Eleko was the name given to this technique.

The textiles from Adire, which are indigo-dyed and made by Yoruba women in southwest Nigeria employing a variety of resist dyeing techniques, are well-known. Early textiles, like those now made in Mali, were probably hand-spun cotton fabrics that were locally woven with basic knotted designs.

6. Bokolonfini
The fabric made by men in Mali known as “bokolonfini” in the Bambara language is what is referred to as “mud cloth.” The fabric is first immersed in a bark and leaf dye throughout the production process.
Then, using thick mud that is gathered from lake bottoms and is high in iron acetate, a design is painted on.

Innovative patterns are used in modern adaptations of this fabric, which are often made in the colors black, gold, brown, and off-white.
These hues have struck a chord with global audiences, generating a sizable export business that is especially well-liked among interior decorators.

7. Adinkira

A calabash (gourd)’s thick rind was used to make stamps that were used to hand-print the fabric known as adinkira. The wearer is able to “read” the print since each stamp has a meaning associated with a proverb.
It is a royal fabric of the Ashanti people and is frequently worn with ‘Kente’ on special occasions like funerals (particularly when wearing black clothes),’stoolings’ (inaugurations), and other royal ceremonies. Adinkira fabrics have beautiful hand embroidery in numerous colors running throughout each seam.
On the seams of contemporary Adinkira fabrics, machine embroidery is frequently visible.

8. Kanga
Kanga is a vibrant and colorful rectangular piece of fabric often worn by women as a wrap-around skirt or dress. It usually features bold patterns, Swahili proverbs, and messages that convey various meanings and sentiments. Kangas are widely used for everyday wear, special occasions, and even as gifts.

9. Kitenge
Similar to Kanga, Kitenge is a colorful fabric worn by both men and women for various occasions. It is commonly used for dresses, shirts, and head wraps. Kitenge fabrics are known for their intricate designs, often featuring geometric patterns, animals, flowers, and cultural symbols.

10. Maasai Shuka
The Maasai Shuka is a distinctive rectangular cloth traditionally worn by the Maasai people. It’s often seen as a blanket, shawl, or even a garment. The Shuka is known for its bold and bright checkered patterns, typically in shades of red, blue, and black. It holds cultural significance within the Maasai community and is sometimes used as a symbol of identity.

11. Kikoi/Kikoy
The Kikoy is a versatile cloth worn by both men and women. It’s characterized by its striped patterns and fringed ends. Originally from the coastal areas of Kenya, the Kikoy has become popular as beachwear and casual clothing due to its lightweight and comfortable nature.

12. Rendille and Samburu Blankets
These blankets are traditional textiles of the Rendille and Samburu ethnic groups. They are known for their intricate beadwork and vibrant colors. These blankets hold cultural significance and are often used as part of ceremonies, gifts, and clothing accessories.

13. Bogolanfini (Mud Cloth)
While not originally from Kenya, the Bogolanfini or Mud Cloth is also used in some parts of the country. It’s a textile art form associated with the Bambara people of Mali, West Africa. Mud Cloth is made using a process of dyeing with fermented mud and plant-based dyes, resulting in unique and intricate patterns. In Kenya, it might be used for decorative purposes or even clothing.

14. Akamba Kikoys
The Akamba people are known for their colorful and finely woven kikoys, which are used for both clothing and household items. These textiles often feature bright geometric patterns and are known for their durability.

15. Luo Traditional Cloth 
The Luo people of western Kenya have their own traditional cloth called “Osuga.” This cloth is often used as a wrap or shawl and is made from locally grown cotton. It features bold designs and is woven using intricate techniques.

16. Bark Cloth
Among some indigenous communities in Kenya, bark cloth is produced by beating the inner bark of certain trees to create a flexible fabric. This traditional technique is practiced by groups like the Bukusu and Taita people.

These traditional textiles not only serve functional purposes but also play an important role in expressing cultural identity, values, and heritage among Kenya’s diverse ethnic groups.

17. Leso
Similar to the kanga, the leso is another piece of cloth often used as a wrap-around garment. It is popular among the Swahili-speaking communities along the coast. Lesos are adorned with various patterns and designs, and they hold cultural significance during ceremonies and celebrations.

18. Akala
This is a traditional textile produced by the Luo community. It’s typically woven from sisal fibers and used to create various items such as bags, mats, and even clothing. Akala weaving is a skill passed down through generations.

19. Isukuti Fabric
The Isukuti people of western Kenya have a distinct style of textile art. Their fabrics often feature geometric patterns and bright colors.
These textiles are used for various purposes, from clothing to home decor.

20: Chitenje
Although more common in neighboring countries like Malawi and Zambia, the chitenje is sometimes used in Kenya as well. It’s a versatile rectangular piece of cloth often worn as a wrap, dress, or headscarf.

Current Demand of African Traditional Textiles

African textiles, fabrics, and fashions have been globally distributed for centuries through networks of growers, artisans, and merchants, leveraging fibers like cotton, as well as the bark and leaves of various plants and the colour dyes derived from them. Traditional African textiles, produced from natural fibers like cotton, are worn to display status and wealth. On the other hand, technical African textiles are crafted from natural and engineered materials for specific purposes, such as insulation, conductivity, or fire resistance.

Cotton is one of the most important fibers used in African textiles, serving as a significant crop for domestic consumption and a crucial export for several countries. Both organic and genetically modified forms of cotton are cultivated on the continent.

The current generation of designers is embracing digital, 3D, and other technologies to adapt indigenous production methods and handcrafting skills for the fabric and fashion emerging from Africa. African clothing flourishes in urban markets across the continent, where woven and commercially created prints are sold side by side, supported by a network of interconnected weavers, buyers, and sellers.

According to Statista, the market volume is predicted to reach $6,182 million by 2027, with revenue expected to grow annually at a rate of 13.23 percent (CAGR 2023–2027).1 A significant market segment is created by e-commerce through distribution channels like online stores. The rise in the African clothing market’s sales is primarily attributable to the expanding middle class in East and Southeast Asia, who use social media and mobile apps for online shopping.

The African clothing market is mainly composed of cotton fibers. Uganda, Benin, Ethiopia, Mali, Egypt, Tanzania, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and South Africa are among the African countries that produce fiber for both domestic use and export, with the majority going to China, India, and the United States. Sub-Saharan Africa ranks fifth in global cotton production, accounting for 7.1 percent of the total. Many nations in Africa are ideally suited for cotton production due to their mild climates.

In 2005, the World Trade Organisation relaxed restrictions, granting African textile manufacturers access to markets in Europe and Asia. As a result, global demand for African fabrics, clothing, and fashion has increased considerably and is expected to remain robust. African garment manufacturers now enjoy improved working conditions, due to lower wages for textile workers in Africa than in Asia and enhanced shipping in countries like Ethiopia.

Ending Note

The prosperity of Africa’s economy hinges significantly on the textile industry. The primary catalysts for the development of Africa’s burgeoning textile sector are foreign investment, investor confidence, and the growth of the fashion industry. Over the last two decades, China has emerged as a significant source of finance for African economies, particularly for Ethiopia’s young yet rapidly expanding manufacturing sector.

The level of engagement from African nation governments remains the primary challenge. Therefore, political will and an enhanced business climate are two factors that would spur increased competition and promote the growth of the industry.

Content courtesy of  Fiber 2 Fashion & NFH 


East Africa Textile And Leather Week (EATLW) 2023 Accelerating East Africa’s Sustainability In The Textile And Leather Industries

Nairobi, Kenya, Sarit Expo Center, Wed., June 28th–Fri., June 30th
With a projected market value of $31 billion in 2020, the fashion and textile business is Africa’s second-largest industry after agriculture. Growing annually, it has the capacity to produce millions of jobs across the continent, particularly for women and young people.
The eagerly awaited EAST AFRICA TEXTILE AND LEATHER WEEK (EATLW) 2023 edition is the most prestigious gathering venue for the home textile, leather accessories, and footwear sectors and is ready to revolutionize the East African textile industry.

Leading African and international decision-makers from all points along the fashion value chain will gather in June to assess upcoming trends and costs.

Key industry players and thought leaders are brought together by EATLW to have in-depth conversations, look into business opportunities, and see the incredible potential of the garment manufacturing industry in East Africa.

with an emphasis on innovation, craftsmanship, and sustainability. Three thousand five hundred wholesalers, retailers, chains, manufacturers, and dealers from East and Central Africa will attend the event along with 150 exhibitors from East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Carvico Ethiopia Plc, Leather Masters Kenya, Starsewing Dubai, Desta Plc, and Josef Seibel are a few notable exhibitors. The three-day RUNWAY KENYA ready-to-wear fashion show will include clothing and accessory designers from all over East Africa, hosted by Couture Africa Magazine in partnership with Ajuma Limited.

The Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry, EPZA, The Leather Apex Society of Kenya, Ubunifu Association, Women in Business, and Fashion Agenda Africa are a few other significant partners.

The CEO of Trade & Fairs Consulting GmbH, Mr. Skander Negasi, said, “We are delighted to host East Africa Textile and Leather Week, a platform that highlights the rich tradition, craftsmanship, and tremendous promise of the East African textile and leather sector.
“EATLW is more than just a conference; it serves as a catalyst for the industry’s development, cooperation, and advancement. We cordially encourage all interested parties, international investors, and fashion fans to join us on this remarkable adventure.

Sarit Expo Center, Main Hall / Nairobi, Kenya
Daily 10.00 am – 6.00 pm EATLW Exhibition
Changes in program structure or exchange of speakers or referees remain reserved | www.eatlw.com

DAY 1 28th June 2023
9.00 am – 10.30 am Registration
11.00 am-noon Inauguration and opening ceremony
Principal Secretary, Department of Industry
Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry
Exports Processing Zones Authority (EPZA)
1.00 pm – 2.00 pm LUNCH BREAK
2.00 pm – 2.45 pm A critical analysis of government policies and initiatives; Agenda to boost production and create employment in the leather and textile industries in the region
Speakers: EPZA
Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry
3.00 pm – 4.00 pm BRAND IDENTITY AND SOURCING SME Dialog session: Establishing a brand name that speaks
to the market to enable scaling and enhancing the taking of large orders for international markets
Speakers: KENIVEST
Moderator: Ms. Grace Mbugua, CEO of Jeilo Collections and Chairperson, Ubunifu Association
5.00 pm – 6.00 pm Fashion Show
Runway Kenya by Couture Africa


DAY 2 29th June 2023
9.00 am – 10.00 am Registration
10.30 am – 11.15 am Women‘s economic empowerment in the textile, apparel, and leather industries: Strategies for
promoting gender equality and empowerment in the industry
Speakers: Women in Business
Caroline Ngumba – Program Manager Sustainable Manufacturing – Textiles & Apparel (IDH)
Catherine Ndungu – CE0, Design 365 / Ubunifu Association
11.30 am – 12.45 pm PRESENTATION Combating counterfeits in East Africa: A comprehensive approach to
enhancing local sourcing in the textile and apparel industry
Speakers: Anti-Counterfeit Authority EPZA
1.00 pm – 2.00 pm LUNCH BREAK
2.00 pm – 2.30 pm Opportunities in the leather, textile, and apparel industry: Financing and investment prospects for industry growth
Speakers: KenInvest KEPSA
2.45 pm – 3.30 pm The rise of African fashion: Sustainable textiles pioneers from East and Central Africa region
Speakers: Ms. Akinyi Odongo, OGW – President & Founder, Fashion Agenda Africa (FAA)
Ms. Aulgah Nato – International Multi Award Winning Fashion Designer
Moderator: Ms. Connie Aluoch – Award-Winning Stylist, Connie Aluoch Styling Management
3.45 pm – 4.20 pm Protecting intellectual property in the Textile and apparel industry: Strategies for
safeguarding designs, trademarks, and patents
Presentation: KIPI
4.20 pm – 5.00 pm Fashioning sustainability in design-led businesses: Systems for sustainability and the role of
diversity and Inclusivity in shaping wearable design
Speaker: EPZA
David Avido, Kibera Fashion Week
Olive Gachara
5.00 pm – 6.00 pm Fashion Show
Runway Kenya by Couture Africa


DAY 3 30th June 2023
9.00 am – 10.00 am Registration
10.30 am – 11.15 am Leveraging government support and exploring new markets to promote growth and
competitiveness in the East African leather sector
Speakers: Leather Apex Society of Kenya
Ministry of Livestock
11.30 am – 12.45 pm PRESENTATION Strategies towards overcoming challenges such as high investment costs
and the need for incentives to attract investment in the leather industry
Speaker: Leather Apex Society of Kenya
1.00 pm – 2.00 pm LUNCH BREAK
2.00 pm – 2.45 pm Panel Discussion by Couture Africa
3.00 pm – 5.00 pm Fashion Show Mega Final
Runway Kenya by Couture Africa

Kenya’s Textile And Apparel Sector
The nation’s current textile and clothing businesses create a wide range of goods.
While integrated mills provide a wide range of goods such as yarn, fabrics (knitted and woven), canvas, school and travel bags, blankets, sweaters, shawls, uniforms, towels, baby diapers, and knitted clothing, spinning enterprises generate yarn (including industrial) and sewing thread. On the other hand, garment producers provide a variety of clothing for both the domestic market and export.
Men’s apparel is produced by about 46% of the garment factories, while the remainder makes woven chemise and robes, slacks, Kaunda suits (for men), and knitted, and woven clothing.
Investments in cotton farming, cotton ginning, spinning, weaving, as well as the manufacturing of clothing and other goods, are guaranteed to have ready access to local, regional, and global markets. Kenya offers advantageous production incentives and enticing investment incentives.

Only 15 of Kenya’s 52 textile mills are now in operation, and they only use less than 45% of their total capacity. In Kenya, there are thousands of clothing businesses. There are over 170 middle and big businesses and over 74,000 small and micro businesses.
The Export Processing Zones are home to twenty-one businesses, each of which employs 1,800 people on average.

Content courtesy of Couture Africa, East Africa Textile And Leather Week & NFH



Textile and Fashion Value Chains: Opportunities For The Private Sector in Kenya in 2021

The Textile and Fashion Value Chains Conversation looking at Opportunities in Kenya’s Private Sector happened on 25th March 2021 online. The African Development Bank, iMC Worldwide and Fashionomics Africa supported it.


Emmanuela Gregorio from African Development Bank opened the session and Jacqueline Shaw from Africa Fashion Guide moderated the event. The panellists included Oscar Alochi (Nairobi Fashion Hub), Jason Musyoka (Viktoria Ventures), Chebet Mutai (Waziwazi), Olivia Awuour (Pine Kazi) and Akinyi Odongo.


Emmanuela Gregorio: This event seeks to understand how businesses have positioned themselves in the fashion market. Consumer trends and country reports with detailed information that can be used by investors.  

Plus, looking at the environmental and social impact,e.g. It takes 2.7 litres of water to manufacture a cotton t-shirt. Lastly, Kenyan is a growing fashion sector in Africa, and the garment industry is a promising investment.


Oscar Alochi: The 1960s – 1980s was very successful at marketing clothes for local use & export. It was impacted negatively by the entrance of second-hand clothes. The Kenyan textile and fashion market has been negatively affected by high production costs, including raw materials and marketing issues.


What’s the best way to bring back the Kenyan fashion textile industry?

Chebet Mutai: The private sector needs to work hand in hand with the government through fashion policies. The local consumption and creation by Kenyans are creating a grassroots momentum. That’s pushing the Buy Kenya, Build Kenya ecosystem. Take advantage of AGOA and focus on preferential trade agreements to access international/American markets.


How can we improve locally made fashion?

Chebet Mutai: Have a good brand story because consumers are becoming highly conscious. A strong brand story needs to weave into the marketing strategy. Adopt new technology, push the made in Africa brand and think about how to penetrate new markets.

Jacqueline Shaw: Many eyes are on the African continent, so Africans need to grab this opportunity by telling their own stories. You don’t want Kenya to be known only as an artisan-driven fashion place, yet there’s also knitting, basket weaving, leather shoes, like a strong leather industry. 

Kenyan can be known for high-class quality and luxury items. So people can buy from us and not just admire us.


How did you start Waziwazi, a luxury leather business? Can Kenya be a leading luxury leather import on the content? 

Chebet Mutai: You need to have the design conversation, who do I want to sell this product to… its quality lifts the product from this jurisdiction to the next. A commitment to a design-driven process centred on what the customer wants.


What is being done to improve the textile industry in Kenya?

Chebet Mutai: A lot is being done to improve the fashion textile industry. Some people already use local cotton and breed silkworm. The fashion line is more on an international level but, there’s an opportunity in other things like bedsheets. KEBS care about standardization. 


Olivia Awuour: Green Nettle has sustainable textiles made from stinging nettle and they have won a fashion award. 


Akinyi Odongo:  We need to engage with farmers to grow organic content and upcycling mitumba pieces into fashion designs. It includes training students to look into sustainable fashion because that’s where the future is. We need to impart skills that will outlive us. 


Are there Copyright Issues in the Textile and Fashion Value Chains?

Chebet Mutai: A particular designer copied one of my designs. So as designers, you need to have legal ownership of fashion products, copyright and trademark. Don’t walk away from people that infringe on your rights. You can go to KIPI for more information.


What are the finances like in the Textile and Fashion Scene?

Jason Musyoka: The more we understand the value chain, the more we can see opportunities. Blended finance can fund the creative sector.


Chebet Mutai: People are wary of sending money from abroad. Paypal is good for abroad buyers. The best way to do it is to integrate it on the site. It’s not fair that it’s easy to purchase products abroad. Yet, it’s hard for others to buy products from Kenyan designers.


What skills do you need to export fashion products?

Chebet Mutai: Making sure that the product you have is what the market wants. It needs good value and, that’s why the brand story really matters. There needs to be more guidance because you take time trying to figure things out.


What are the opportunities in the retail sector, the local market? The domestic consumer market in Kenya? Do you have an idea? 

Oscar Alochi: It isn’t easy knowing estimating Kenyans using local luxury brands, but the numbers are still rising. 


Chebet Mutai: You can access duty-free items if you can prove that your textile can’t be sourced locally as a fashion designer. Designers need to walk into spaces and take part in conversations and keep pushing for opportunities. Understand terms of trade that apply to countries and utilise KEPROBA.


Hilda Ogada: KEBROBA is a product development initiative. It handholds SMEs to make sure that their products meet the international guidelines. So, any exporter can easily access information about any documentation that they need.


Anne Wamae: We’re waiting for guidance to implement fashion policies.


Ann McCreath: There’s huge potential in the Kenyan fashion industry around alternative fashion textiles. Quality textiles with high-quality designs and correct branding plus transparency and storytelling.  The price goes up and, everyone benefits in the value chain. 


New designers should start small and think through designs and experiment since it’s a difficult time. It’s always a rollercoaster. Always be ready to adapt, apply for all training opportunities and learn from as many people as possible.


Closing Remarks about the Textile and Fashion Value Chain in Kenya

Emmanuela Gregorio: Kenya has an ecosystem that the government is working with so things can thrive. It’s important to have high-quality garments, look and feel, understand the market, pricing and market intelligence. Fashionomics wants to put its masterclasses online, better online payment systems, the importance of producing fashion sustainably.


Unearthing Fabrics: Denim

Unearthing Fabrics is a new series that looks at the history of your favourite fabrics before you started wearing them on your backs.

Smooth. Versatile. Rough. Indigo Dye.


The word denim originates from a fabric created in a French town called ‘Nimes’. Then, it spread and reached an Italian city called ‘Genoa’ but the French knew it as ‘Genes’, so this was translated to jeans. Later, It reached the gold miners during the American Gold Rush, in the 1850s, and they loved its strength and adaptability.


Denim comes from cotton. Cotton seeds are planted and cultivated. The cotton plant matures with a protective layer of fibrous black seeds around it. They’re collected and separated to create a fibre. Finally, it’s cleaned and turned into yarn using an industrial machine. It undergoes treatments and washes that affect the final properties of the finished denim product. Lastly, it’s dyed and woven into a warp-faced denim style.


Denim products tend not to be very expensive unless you’re purchasing raw or organic denim. It’s also strong, durable, versatile and gets softer with time.


Denim fabrics come in different forms. This includes 100% cotton denim, raw denim, selvage denim, sanforized denim, stretch denim, coloured denim, crushed denim and acid wash denim.

100% Cotton denim is normal denim that can be treated in different ways plus it’s durable and flexible.

Raw denim isn’t washed after it’s dyed and serious denim lovers can even spend up to 6 months before washing their raw denim jeans.

Selvage Denim is premium denim that doesn’t unravel and it fringes at the end.

Sanforized denim is washed, it’s softer but less durable than raw denim.

Stretch denim is cotton mixed with spandex, to create a stretchy fabric. It easily fits on people’s bodies like skinny jeans.

Coloured denim refers to either blue or other colours. Indigo dying leads to a blue colour but Sulphur dying leads to other colours like black.

Crushed denim looks like velvet and it’s used for jackets and skirts.

Acid wash denim is when raw denim is washed with a strong acid that eats away at the dye.


Of course, denim is used in a wide variety of clothing that includes jeans, shirts, tops, jackets and et cetera. It’s used on shoes, belts and handbags. For home items, it’s used for duvets, pillows and curtains.


Wash denim once a month and spot clean stains as they turn up. It’s possible to freeze your jeans to kill germs. If you’re using a washing machine, never use more than 30°C, to prevent fading or damaging your jeans. If you’re washing by hand, then, don’t let your denim jeans soak more than 45 minutes. Reshape your jeans while they’re wet, and let them dry in the shade. Minimize or skip ironing your denim.