Sunday 26th of March 2023

Nairobi, Kenya

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.


The Fight Against Covid-19 Kenya Fashion Council Community Spirit

In an effort to further curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Kenyan government has directed all citizens to wear masks when in public spaces.

On March 30th, Kenya Fashion Council put out an appeal on social media, requesting designers and fashion industry members to share information on their capacity to produce face masks and PPEs.


Within 24 hours, the Kenya Fashion Council had received more than 800 emails from individuals and businesses. By the following day, there were 1,520 emails in total. KFCO also went ahead and created a manual for public use on the creation of a reusable cloth face mask. The same was shared with designers and tailors, enabling them to continue with a form of production and income generation in a time of crisis.

Kenya Fashion Council is working with all the relevant stakeholders to not only provide safe masks for the population but income generation strategies for its designers and tailors whose businesses have been hit hard during this pandemic.

Sterilization Centre – The Safe Masks For All Initiative
Kenya Fashion Council has created an opportunity for its members to produce safe masks for the public by partnering with a sterilization centre. This partnership allows members to drop their cloth face masks at the centre where quality check is performed before sterilization, packaging and labeling.

The already tested, state of the art sterilization centre is well equipped and has the capacity 10 sterilize 4,800 face masks per day.

A customer in receipt of the KE-2 mask can rest assured that it is safe for use and free from contaminants. Designers who would like to use the sterilization centre should have the capacity to deliver a minimum of 120 labeled masks. The quality assurance step ensures that only quality masks are accepted for this process, upholding excellence in production.

The masks produced illustrate the KFCO spirit of innovation and excellence as every mask is individually sterilized, packaged and labeled. KFCO has partnered with Brand Kenya and these high quality, safe, reusable cloth face masks are proof that as Kenyans, we are more than capable of impacting, innovating and producing quality goods! We have the answer to our problems and creative strategies are within.

Get Your Ke-2 Face Mask Delivered To You!
The Kenya Fashion Council team has been working day and night to not only coordinate production efforts of face masks but also seek distribution channels to ease accessibility of the same. Kenyans can now conveniently place an order online via JUMIA Kenya and receive the high quality KE-2 masks at their doorstep.

The council has negotiated rates for its members with JUMIA Kenya , which means Kenya Fashion Council Members can now set up shop and sell their masks online,  automatically increasing their customer reach. KFCO is working towards multiple distribution channels to ensure Kenyans have access to quality reusable cloth face masks.

Kenya fashion council mask available here on Jumia link

Are You A Member?
Due to the current global situation as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Kenya Fashion Council has extended its introductory offer on 90% off membership till 31st May 7020! Membership registration starts from as little as KES 2,500. As a member you can access the great rates KFCO has negotiated with JUMIA Kenya and reach your customers online with just a few steps!

Website:  kenyafashioncouncil.co.ke to access discounted membership and join the family! Begin your journey to your online store!

Join The Fight
Kenya Fashion Council is committed to reach every comer of society and provide safe masks to all Kenyans. We have partnered with NYS to enable mass face mask production. NYS engaged a total of 53 tailors from Jericho, Ngara, Taveta court, Kibra and Nairobi Textile.

The work commenced on 28th of April and as at 4th of May 16, 122 masks had been produced. We are looking into further developing patterns for other PPEs as well. The community spirit has been strong and a good example of this is David Juma, pictured below.

Mr Juma received support from the Kenya Fashion Council family who donated cloth and elastic materials totaling 30 meters. Mr Juma also received the KFCO manual which has guidelines on face mask creation and uses this to train others.

Get in touch if you would like to join us in our community efforts! Lets join hands and fight this pandemic together. We are stronger together.

Content courtesy of Kenya Fashion Council

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