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Monday 15th of April 2024

Nairobi, Kenya

Exploring Kenyan Fashion Designer’s: Tradition, Innovation, and Sustainability

Kenya, a dynamic and culturally diverse country in East Africa, has made great advancements in the fashion industry. Kenyan fashion designers get inspiration from a variety of sources, ranging from traditional outfits that reflect centuries-old traditions to cutting-edge designs that epitomize innovation.
This article explores the numerous sources that shape the creativity, identity, and fashion-design philosophy of Kenyan fashion designers.

1. Traditional Heritage and Cultural Roots

One of the primary sources of inspiration for Kenyan fashion designers is the country’s rich cultural heritage. Traditional garments like the kikoi, kanga, and Maasai shuka have served as the basis for many contemporary designs. These designers reinterpret and modernize these traditional pieces, incorporating them into everyday wear and high-fashion collections. The Kenya Fashion Council (KFC) plays a pivotal role in preserving and promoting these cultural touchpoints, acting as a bridge between tradition and modernity in the fashion industry.

2. Sustainability and Ethical Practices

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on sustainability and ethical practices in the global fashion industry. Kenyan designers have been quick to adopt these principles, incorporating eco-friendly materials, fair labor practices, and ethical production methods. The Ethical Fashion Initiative works closely with Kenyan artisans and designers to create products that are not only stylish but also socially responsible.

3. Empowerment and Social Change

Fashion Revolution’s presence in Kenya has further fueled the movement for ethical fashion. Through campaigns, events, and collaborations, the organization encourages transparency, fair wages, and sustainable practices in the fashion supply chain. Kenyan designers are increasingly conscious of the social impact of their work, striving to create opportunities for local artisans and communities.

4. Genderless Fashion and Identity

The concept of genderless fashion has gained significant traction worldwide, challenging traditional notions of clothing and identity. Kenyan designers, as seen in The Guardian’s article, are embracing this trend, creating gender-inclusive designs that celebrate individuality. This shift not only redefines fashion but also mirrors Kenya’s progressive stance on social issues.

5. Luxury and High-End Fashion

The Kenyan fashion scene is not limited to traditional and sustainable designs alone; luxury fashion also plays a significant role. The top 10 Kenyan luxury fashion brands highlighted in Nairobi Fashion Hub’s article showcase the country’s ability to create high-end, couture-level pieces that rival international fashion houses. This emphasis on luxury not only contributes to Kenya’s economic growth but also establishes its presence in the global fashion arena.

6. Fusion of Modern and Traditional

The fusion of modern aesthetics with traditional elements is a hallmark of Kenyan fashion. Designers often incorporate traditional fabrics, prints, and techniques into contemporary silhouettes, creating a unique blend of the old and the new. This fusion is evident in the designs showcased at the Kenya Fashion Awards, where innovation and tradition collide.

7. Financial and Corporate World Influences

Kenyan fashion designers are not only influenced by cultural and artistic factors but also by the financial and corporate world. As highlighted in Business Daily Africa’s article, designers are creating fashion lines tailored for financiers, recognizing the importance of attire that reflects professionalism and success.

8. Recognition and Inspiration from the Past

The history of Kenyan fashion has paved the way for contemporary designers to draw inspiration from their predecessors. As noted in the BBC article, designs from the 1970s and 1980s continue to influence modern fashion, emphasizing the cyclical nature of trends and the enduring impact of iconic designs.

Conclusion

The world of Kenyan fashion design is a tapestry woven with threads from tradition, innovation, sustainability, empowerment, and global influences. From traditional garments and ethical practices to genderless designs and luxury fashion, Kenyan designers draw inspiration from diverse sources that reflect their country’s rich cultural heritage and its evolving identity. As the industry continues to evolve, Kenyan designers are poised to make their mark on the global stage, creating a lasting impact that celebrates both their roots and their aspirations.

Content courtesy of NFH 

Ikojn Announces a Partnership With Ncba Bank, Introduces the Ikojnic Club, and Unveils a Cover Feature in Couture Africa Magazine.

The IKOJNIC CLUB, the brand’s exclusive loyalty club, was launched on Sunday, May 7, 2023, at a cocktail party and magnificent pop-up at The Social House in Nairobi.
Celebrities and fashion enthusiasts, like Pinky Ghelani, Joy Kendi, Sonal Maherali, and Victor Peace, attended the event.

Customers who use THE IKOJNIC CLUB receive free benefits for doing business with IKOJN. Every transaction a member makes results in points that may be exchanged for savings, free shipping, and other benefits.
The initiative aims to increase customer value and foster a sense of community among IKOJN supporters.

IKOJN announced a relationship with NCBA Bank in addition to the creation of THE IKOJNIC CLUB.
Customers of IKOJN will receive a 15% discount on all NCBA Card purchases as a result of the cooperation. This alliance demonstrates IKOJN’s dedication to giving its customers the greatest shopping experience possible.

“IKOJN is a womenswear brand that is 100% made in Kenya and it has a focus on sustainability. We love our customers at IKOJN we have been serving our customers for 8 years now. Our growth has been because of our customers and I thought we need to find a way to reward the IKOJN consumer who keeps coming back. They’re loyal to us and we need to give them something exciting in return,” said IKOJN’s founder, Cris Njoki.

Finally, IKOJN unveiled its cover story and fashion spread in Couture Africa magazine. The article is a significant accomplishment for the company and a reflection of its expanding reputation in the East African fashion sector.

IKOJN founder and CEO Janet Mbugua expressed her excitement about the introduction of THE IKOJNIC CLUB and her company’s collaboration with NCBA Bank.
“These alliances are proof of our dedication to giving our customers the finest purchasing experience possible. We are also delighted to be highlighted in Couture Africa.

This is a significant accomplishment for our company and a reflection of the dedication of our team.

Since its launch in 2015, IKOJN has become increasingly well-known. In addition to its bustling online store, www.ikojn.com, the ready-to-wear business has three more store locations in Nairobi Westgate Mall, Imaara Mall, and Greenhouse Mall. It is the height of femininity, with clothes that range from colorful dresses to chic co-ord shirts and bottoms. Given their superb construction, use of eco-friendly fabrics, and constantly flawless tailoring, it is easy to see why the brand has had such significant market growth since its inception and especially over the past few years.

“The IKOJNIC woman has a strong sense of self. She desires to have style. She wants to use her clothes as a means of self-expression, but she doesn’t want to stand out too much.

She wants to look classy with a bit of playfulness,” added Cris Njoki

Pinky Ghelani, Joy Kendi, Sonal Maherali, Brian Babu, and Victor Peace, to name a few renowned fashionistas, were among those present at the event held at The Social House in Nairobi, which was a big success.
IKOJN’s devoted clients had the opportunity to speak with Cris and her staff during the event while learning more about the company.
Visitors began to arrive around 3 pm and began to drink some Tusker Cider and Gordon’s Cocktails compliments of EABL as they went about their Sunday socializing and shopping.

IKOJN has established itself as a strong player in the Kenyan fashion sector, and we can’t wait to watch where they go from here.

Content courtesy of Couture Africa, Ikojn, NFH

Unveiling the Unique Elegance: A Glimpse into the World of Kenyan Fashion

The essence and uniqueness of a country are reflected in fashion, which acts as a canvas for cultural expression. Kenya, a nation rich in history, variety, and a thriving fashion sector that captures its distinct history and modern influences, is located in the heart of East Africa.
Kenyan fashion skillfully combines the old and the new, fusing traditional craftsmanship with contemporary interpretations to produce a tapestry of styles that continues to amaze the world.
This essay goes deeply into the alluring world of Kenyan fashion, examining its multifaceted cultural heritage, cutting-edge styles, and path to global acclaim.

Cultural Fusion: A Tapestry of Traditions

Kenyan fashion is an embodiment of the nation’s cultural diversity, celebrating over 40 ethnic groups, each with its distinct traditional attire and craftsmanship. The Maasai, known for their vibrant beadwork and bold patterns, contribute to Kenya’s fashion narrative with their iconic shukas (traditional blankets) and intricate jewelry. The Kikuyu, on the other hand, add their unique touch with brightly colored fabrics and finely detailed embroidery.

However, it’s the art of weaving and hand-dyeing fabrics by the Luo community that has gained international attention. The “Kanga,” a rectangular piece of cloth adorned with intricate designs and Swahili proverbs, stands as a symbol of unity and cultural pride, transcending regional boundaries.

Innovative Design: Where Tradition Meets Modernity

The Kenyan fashion scene is not confined to the echoes of the past; it thrives on innovation and modern interpretations. Emerging designers are adept at infusing traditional elements with contemporary aesthetics, creating clothing that resonates with both local and global audiences. These designers experiment with fabrics, colors, and silhouettes, often finding inspiration in nature, wildlife, and urban landscapes.

Brands like “Nairobi Apparel District” and “KikoRomeo” have mastered the art of fusing traditional fabrics with modern designs, capturing the essence of Kenya’s multifaceted identity. The incorporation of sustainable practices, such as ethical sourcing and eco-friendly materials, further propels Kenyan fashion onto the international stage, resonating with the growing global demand for conscious clothing.

Global Recognition: From Local Markets to International Catwalks

Kenyan fashion’s journey from local markets to international catwalks is a testament to its growing influence. Nairobi, the capital city, has become a hub for fashion events, with platforms like the Nairobi Fashion Week showcasing the diversity and talent of Kenyan designers. Additionally, fashion enthusiasts and influencers from around the world are drawn to Kenya’s unique designs, often incorporating them into their own wardrobes.

International designers and brands are taking note of Kenya’s fashion scene, collaborating with local artisans to infuse their collections with an authentic touch. The incorporation of traditional Kenyan fabrics and craftsmanship into global fashion trends not only boosts Kenya’s economy but also fosters cross-cultural collaborations that celebrate diversity.

Empowering Communities: Fashion as a Catalyst for Change

Beyond aesthetics, Kenyan fashion serves as a catalyst for social change and economic empowerment. Many fashion initiatives prioritize sustainability and fair trade practices, providing employment opportunities for local artisans, especially women. By preserving traditional crafts and investing in skill development, these initiatives uplift communities and empower individuals, allowing them to showcase their talents on a global stage.

Conclusion

Kenyan fashion is more than just fabric and design; it’s a dynamic reflection of the nation’s history, diversity, and aspirations. From the intricate beadwork of the Maasai to the modern interpretations of emerging designers, Kenya’s fashion scene is a captivating blend of tradition and innovation. As the world continues to embrace the beauty of cultural diversity, Kenyan fashion stands poised to make an indelible mark, showcasing the nation’s rich tapestry of stories and talents on the global stage.

Content courtesy of NFH Digital Team

Kenyan Genge Musician Nonini Launches Footwear Line In US, Shoe Designed in Italy

Kenyan rapper Hubert Nakitare better known as Nonini has launched a footwear line under his Mgenge2RU in the US. The artiste confirmed the info through his social media platforms. The shoe edition was created by Italian master-crafts, AliveShoes, who have many of their shoe editions appearing in international magazines like Vogue.

According to Nonini, he has invested over Ksh 2million in the shoe line and hopes the merchandise gets global recognition. “The shoes going for Ksh24, 000 are real international quality wear. They have been produced and endorsed by one of the best Italian shoe companies,” said the rapper.

His latest design is a unique and limited edition shoe wear in which he has collaborated with Italian master-crafts AliveShoes, through its founder and CEO, Luca Botticelli, AliveShoes, certified Nonini’s designer shoes for distribution and sale to the public this week.

The announcement comes days after Nonini and his team met the Floyd Mayweather African team in Las Vegas to discuss collaborative ideas they can work on touching on the apparel business.

“The US is a lucrative market because as you know, their economy is thriving and that is why my products are doing well here,” he expounded on his choice of launching in the US. Besides seeking performance opportunities, the rapper relocated to the United States of America four months ago, where he has been consulting on how to expand and monetize his ‘Mgenge2Ru’ brand.

“I am still working on my music with two major collaborations; one with Redsan and the other with Tanzanian rapper Chege, coming out soon. But I have discovered that all creatives in the world including US rapper Kanye West are trying to make it through brands.

“Fashion can take you places including those international fashion platforms like the New York Fashion week and so I have my eyes on the prize. This is where all my focus is now,” the celebrated hip-hop star who was part of the Kenyan hip-hop revolution in the 2000s said.

Popular for his big songs such as ‘Furahiday’, ‘Mtoto Mzuri’, ‘Keroro’ and ‘Nimetoka Mbali’, Nonini started working on his fashion design Mgenge2Ru when he was still at Calif Records.

He recalls how he would visit Gikomba market to buy clothes that he would then brand and sell to his fans. This is how the popular Calif Records T-shirts came up.

“It is only that Mgenge2Ru apparel is exploding now otherwise what people are seeing now is a result of constant work dating back many years. The time I have put in this cannot be measured.

“In the last two years, I have put in about Sh2 million into the work and that tells you that since I have no partner this is a real investment that has gone into it. I am trying to create merchandise that is self-sustainable and one that earns itself a good international identity. This is a game-changer,” he said.

Nonini’s music career is also thriving.

“Last Saturday I performed in Oakland in California among other shows and it is during my interactions with fans that I am learning what they want in terms of fashion,” Nonini said.

Nonini is not the only Kenyan making it big in the US when it comes to fashion designs.

Zedekiah Lukoye, aka Zeddie Loky, the founder and CEO of California-based Blkkburd Genes has been making waves in the US with his designs showcasing Kenya’s exquisite features, recently, he hit international headlines after rapper Jay-Z was spotted wearing his designer T-shirt showing Lamu’s Riyadh Mosque.

Each pair of kicks comes with collector edition packaging, You can buy your own pair here.

Mgenge 2Ru Kicks 
Mgenge2ru Jeshi Ed
Mgenge2RU Ladies 
Mgenge2ru Kids 
Mgenge2ru Kids 

Content courtesy of Mgenge 2ru Brand & Nairobi fashion hub 

Kenyan Designers and Film Looku Debut at London Fashion Week Virtual Premiere

A film called Looku celebrating the work of 11 emerging Kenyan brands and designers, including Favoloso By Nanu, Genteel, Nisisi Factory, Sevaria, Enda and We Are NBO, premiered virtually on Saturday 20 February.

Brought about by the British Council’s Creative DNA programme and emerging creative consultancy Fashion Scout, Looku was co-directed by Sunny Dolat and Noel Kasyoka, who sought to recreate the creative vibrancy of Nairobi’s street style scene.

“Whenever we see images of Kenya and Nairobi, often, it’s the landscapes and wildlife that are often prioritised, over the incredible and dynamic people who live there,” said Dolat, a stylist, creative director and co-founder of The Nest Collective in the Kenyan capital who leads the creative direction of Creative DNA x Fashion Scout digital publication Wauzine. “Looku and Wauzine are a celebration of Nairobi, Nairobisms and Nairobians in their glory and flair, a love letter from us to us.”

The screening of Looku was accompanied by three panel talks on timely topics like fostering creativity during crisis, reimagining fashion’s capital cities (moderated by Helen Jennings, Wauzine features editor and co-founder of Nataal Media), and the value of more conscious design practices.

Fashion Scout 

Fashion Scout is a leading international consultancy and platform for nurturing, empowering and showcasing the future of fashion. Fashion Scout’s showcase events in London, Paris, Kyiv and other fashion weeks have presented a whole generation of designers to international media, buyers and influencers.

With 20 years of experience in the industry, our consultancy creates and delivers bespoke mentoring and development programmes for designers and organisations around the world  enabling designers to adapt and build sustainable businesses in these challenging times – and providing them with the opportunity to showcase their work to the international market.

Mettā Nairobi

Metta is Nest Groups’ physical and digital entrepreneurs’ network, where they bring together founders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, academics and investors
to collaborate. Nest Group is committed to creating collaborative environments that help corporates, start-ups, and our investors scale and succeed.

HEVA Fund

HEVA Fund is an East African fund that invests in the transformative social and economic potential of the creative economy sector in the East African region.

Since 2013, HEVA Fund has generated insights, rolled out investments, and innovated financial models specifically for the growth of the creative economy in east Africa.

HEVA Fund have invested in more than 40 creative businesses and directly supported over 8,000 creative practitioners in the fashion, digital content and television, live music and gaming value-chains. From Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, Arusha, Lamu to Dar es salaam, the creative sector is where the creation of new products and new cultural experiences is happening.

They want to be at the forefront of helping producers of cultural goods and services to build high-value, profitable businesses where new ideas will come to life, and where the highest potential for great profits, great jobs, and happy people will be found.

Content courtesy of  Fashion Scout, Mettā Nairobi, HEVA Fund & Nairobi fashion hub 

 

Nike Kondakiss Upcycled Parachute Fashions Help Educate Maasai Girls

The Greek/Danish designer and entrepreneur Nike Kondakis seeks to provide an alternative to the polluting fashion industry and is one of the talented designers featured in the soon to be released book Fashion Africa by AFG’s founder Jacqueline Shaw.

KONDAKIS is a responsible fashion company both socially and environmentally. Based in Kenya, KONDAKIS concept-collections are made from several unique materials such as Parachutes, Dead Wood and Peace Silk. Nike Kondakis creates stunning to-die-for garments fit for any Red Carpet event from these original recycled parachutes in Kenya. Her voluminous, goddess-like dresses are manufactured by local artisans and can be ordered on-line and shipped worldwide within 3-5 weeks.

The parachute line (she also designs accessories and knitwear) is available in an unexpected and wide range of colours such as snow white, lava orange, bush green, sea blue, pitch black and Barbie purple to name a few which are all the original colours, minimizing the energy used in an additional dyeing process and adding to the novelty of each piece. Stamps revealing when and who the parachute was made for and original parachute stitching are subtle details that make each piece unique.

Kondakis’ style is avant-garde and extravagant yet breathes Scandinavian minimalism , making her creations very wearable, modern and pure.

This is definitely visible in her knitwear line named the Natural Collection, which is made from un-dyed wool from Kenya and is spun and knitted by hand. Oversized sweaters and ponchos with a raw, natural look are made in unbleached white and black tones and are complemented by the accessories made from African “dead wood”.

Her accessories line consists of bangles, earrings and necklaces carved from wood which has died naturally or been broken off by wild game in the Kenyan bush. Her graphic pieces have a rustic touch, some surfaces still covered in bark and others polished and stamped with the Kondakis logo.

In 2002 Nike Kondakis started a three year program in responsible entrepreneurship at the Kaos piloterna in Copenhagen. After completing her education, she traveled to Kenya to set up a development project for 30,000 Maasai’s at the Lorika Foundation.

The project is now currently being run by local managers, but Nike still contributes to the education of Maasai girls who she says are often under prioritized when it comes to schooling. Her ambition is to create many more collections from different recycled materials, to sell more internationally and to employ 100 people in the coming 5 years.

Overall through their growing sales they want to take many more girls to school.

Kondakis has received a large amount of attention by international and local press for her design and work with the Maasai community, and has shown her collections on the catwalk in NYC, Nairobi and Sun City. If you happen to be in NYC, San Francisco or LA in September, you can book an appointment to meet Nike and view her collection.

Content courtesy of Africa Fashion Guide & Nairobi fashion hub

Kenyan Fashion Designers and Models : Making Fashion Stories 2021 Calls For Submissions 

Dear Kenyan fashion designers & Models

Designer Spotlight aims to showcase Kenyan designers and makers who center their work around sustainability, transparency, fairness, and equity, telling their stories, educate and inspire crafters and enable them to make informed decisions. We share scenes that tell not just one story, about a Kenyan fashion designer but all rounded We at Nairobi fashion hub publish pieces from a diverse range of voices, we’re interested in exploring and learning from different perspectives and strengthening our community, and we offer a platform for writers who express what they care about in their work.

“Power is gained by sharing knowledge,not hoarding it”

Please send your full submission to social@nairobifashionhub.co.ke

Photo courtesy of Ashok Sunny Tailored Limited

Content courtesy  of Nairobi fashion hub