Friday 19th of August 2022

Nairobi, Kenya

Fashion Designer Kithe Brewster’s Catwalks Remove Cultural Roadblocks

Kithe Brewster is an American stylist and fashion designer and founder of the Kithe Brewster brand and company. Leaving for Paris at age nineteen proved to be the right cut for him, as he immediately grasped the French scene, becoming a hot stylish on the move.

After seven years in Paris, he moved to London, where music styling became his forte. While in London, he worked for magazines such as Elle, Scene, Vanity Fair, Interview, Flaunt, Chic (Dutch), French and American Jalouse, and Surface, among others.

His work for these publications gained attention from the crème de la crème of fashion, as well as the European and Hollywood celebrity elite. He has styled covers for Flaunt magazine with stars such as Adrien Brody, Cate Blanchett, Drew Barrymore, Selma Hayek, Winona Ryder, and many others.

His personal clients have included Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Iman, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Usher, and Heidi Klum. He has spent a great deal of time in the Middle East, in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and the UAE. He was Creative Director of DIFW, the original Fashion Week. “I predicted on record,” he says, “that Dubai would become a major fashion capital.”

Currently, in Dubai, Brewster spoke to Gulf Today

Why did you choose the fashion industry as your place of work?

I would like to think my early exposure to the arts in all aspects was definitely a deciding factor. From a very young age, I was extremely conscious of clothing and its many textures. At five or six, I truly understood the definition of beauty.

Looking back, I adored rummaging through my mother’s closets and just appreciating the quality; I was quick to notice when something missed this quality.

It was truly organic in this sense, thus I believe I was chosen. As a man of faith, there are no coincidences. I believe it is the Creator’s plan – the journey and the results.

What are the African-American sensitivities you bring to fashion?

Being African and American contributes a great deal to my creative DNA. I am balanced in rich history and tradition. As a designer, my gift is my hands, draping and manipulating fabric to create one-of-a-kind designs. This is rich African tradition the sense of color and dynamic.

There is a European side of my makeup, which leads me to seek out Europe to discover this sense of style. I was a huge success as a stylist, fashion editor, and celebrity stylist, because of the balance of multiple culture comprehension. In fact, it’s the understanding of all global cultures combined, that is needed to truly be a voice in fashion.

Is fashion only for celebrities or can it be shared by others?

Fashion is, in my belief, for everyone. I definitely think we all want and need the confidence of looking and then feeling good. I spend a lot of time observing the influences in modern society. I’m certain it trickles down, in some capacity, to reach everyone.

Is Faith a constraint on fashion?

I believe Faith is in no way a restraining measure in fashion. For example, my time in the UAE and other Arab countries, helped me to see the progression of High Fashion and Modesty. When I was Creative Director of Dubai Fashion Week, I helped to discover the amazing talent of Rabia Z.

I had the huge pleasure to nurture her and pushing her vision of modesty and the Muslim woman. At that time, twelve years ago, we made history with her first show in Dubai. I get goosebumps when I think back and hear the live drums and the first entrance of the first model.

We proved successfully that within modesty, one can be fashion-forward and completely true to one’s faith, respecting the modesty it is built upon. I cried like a baby that night when she received a true standing ovation. We had managed to inspire Muslim women. It was a historic moment and I have watched a global progression in High Fashion inspired by the modesty of Muslim women. Let’s not forget my first ever collection was inspired by Emirati women.

Is there a distinction between ex-pat fashion and Emirati fashion? If so, what are their defining features?

There is a difference between ex-pat fashion and Emirati fashion. There is a merging of sophistication and class in Emirati fashion. Expat fashion tends to hinge upon trends from Europe, yet slightly behind. As an ex-pat, I say this in an opinion-based manner. What’s beautiful is when all of the incredible high fashion intertwines with traditional and modest apparel.

Why did you think Dubai could be a fashion center of the world?

I felt twelve years ago that Dubai would become a fashion capital because I saw the vision of Sheikh Mohammed and the impact of the year that I spent coming back and forwards from New York. The buildings were going up all around me. I saw it happening.

I felt the hunger for this country’s own place within fashion makeup. I pushed so hard to catch them up to the rest of the world. On a funny note, I got rid of the raised runways and had the models walk on the floor. It caused a huge uproar: it was in the papers. But when the rest of the world saw the shows that came out of Dubai, they were blown away. I convinced American Elle magazine to cover Fashion Week. It was a huge step that was aligned with Sheikh Mohammed’s vision.

How will you define your style?

Maison Kithe Brewster will define its style by being discerning and not by overcapitalizing or overexposing the brand. By always being consistent in style. By not selling the same thing to hundreds of clients.  By quality and personal attention to every client. By never running out of ideas, and creating original excellence.

Content courtesy of Gulf Today & Nairobi fashion hub 

Erika Akoth Personal Fashion Stylist

Erika Akoth owner and founder of Erika A. Style Concept store, has worn many hats she is an avid traveler, a keen collector, a fashion curator, a stylist, and a former designer and model.
She has traveled the world, carefully collecting each piece that features at the store, from a variety of runways, designers, and craftsmen and women.

Erika A. Style has a keen eye for detail and beauty, and it matters that each collected and curated piece tells a story.

Erika Akoth is the curator behind the brand. She is a fashion and personal stylist, multi-label fashion curator and high end personal shopper. Erika has been involved in the fashion industry for more than twelve years. During this time, she has worked as a personal stylist, modeled for a variety of high-fashion projects and shopped for a range of private clients around the world.

She now owns and runs Erika A. Style, a luxury fashion concept store, in her home country, Kenya.

Akoth studied culinary arts but while she enjoyed cooking, she was also tired of the daily routine of creating in the background  she wanted something bigger and more fulfilling. She soon discovered that fashion was her missing ingredient.

Her love for food still informs her creative sense for fashion, and she believes that the secret to good fashion like good cooking lies with knowing how much is needed.

Scarabs are Erika A’s statement piece. She credits this to Steve Tyler whom she met at an event once, trying to get an autograph after one of his events. Tyler’s words to her on seeing her Scarab piece were, ‘what a beautiful statement piece!”

Erika has since worn them to many more events, believing they are her lucky charm.  She enjoys curating clothes, collecting art, decorating spaces and creating beauty in as many spheres as she can.

Content courtesy of Erika A. Style & Nairobi fashion hub

Erika A. Style

Erika Akoth is the founder and C.E.O of Erika A. Style is a fashion concept store located in leavy suburb of Karen off Bogani In Nairobi

The concept store has a variety of unique pieces collected from different parts of the world, the pieces are curated from luxury brands, fashion runways, designer stores, small boutiques and upcoming designers. Each piece is the only one of its kind, and once sold out, will not be re-stocked.

Personal stylist Erika Akoth at her Karen shop

Erika Akoth owner and founder of Erika A. Style Concept store, has worn many hats she is an avid traveler, a keen collector, a fashion curator, a stylist, and a former designer and model.
She has traveled the world, carefully collecting each piece that features at the store, from a variety of runways, designers, and craftsmen and women. Erika A. Style has a keen eye for detail and beauty, and it matters that each collected and curated piece tells a story.

The store offers a range of items from the fashion world: jewelry, clothes, shoes, hats and a variety of accessories including hats, scarfs and brooches. Erika A. Style’s signature piece is the Scarab and the store also features an eclectic range of scarab pieces including brooches, necklaces, printed scarves, rings and wrist bangles.

Erika A. Style Concept Store has been open since 2017. The store is located on Karen Road, off Bogani in Nairobi, Kenya. It operates on appointment only and clients are requested to call or email to make an appointment before visiting.

Content courtesy of Erika A. Style & Nairobi fashion hub 

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