Wednesday 1st of February 2023

Nairobi, Kenya

The Kenyan Fashion Label Ikeno Clothing Was Inspired By Life On Lamu Island

Posted On : July 19, 2022

Fashion Tribe Influencer


Variety of menswear in slow fashion Jemima Bornman founded Ikeno in October 2019, and it was inspired by Lamu Island in Kenya.
The equator sun’s glare is reflected by Ikeno clothes. The clothing trend is made of baggy, worn-out materials and is slow and sustainable.

The spirit of Lamu Island, where company founder Jemima Bornman lives, is immediately reflected in the airy cotton and big cuts. It readily captures the winds that pick up off the Indian Ocean, making it ideal for use in the sweltering heat of tropical climates.

Small youngsters pass by and wave in the village of Shela as young Masai men drift by and laugh together. Donkeys wander aimlessly and without attention. You sweat calm there because it moves so slowly that it almost feels hallucinogenic.

When asked what the focus of her menswear clothes is, Bornman responds to OkayAfrica, “I want to keep things extremely simple. She points to the island’s renowned boats and explains, “My last line of suits were constructed from the Dhow boat sails that you see sweeping by, look.”

One of the largest offshore islands, Lamu is only 60 miles from the Somali border. A place with no automobiles or trucks and a predominantly Muslim population who speak Swahili. Donkeys’ sturdy backs carried an enormous load of creating and maintaining the island, which was still being done today.

Bornman moved to Lamu when she was 3 years old after being relocated from Zambia when her parents divorced.
The neighborhood came together to support a young single mother and her daughters. She feels a strong connection to those who, like her, stay and have known Bornman her entire life.

She reclines in the shade. After spending a long night bringing in bass and barracuda, the fisherman tie ropes behind her. “It makes no sense for Ikeno or me to live anywhere other than Lamu. My house,” she declares. Why even leave Kenya, which has always been such a fantastic creative center for fashion, design, and art? For me, it’s a location where creativity’s magic may be found every minute.

Ikeno relies on recycling items that capture the essence of the island because it uses its rhythms and echoes. According to Bornman, who sources the fabrics for her collections from India, “Ikat handwoven cloth from India has always been exported to East Africa and all the way to Lamu.”

It is impossible to avoid being inspired by the Swahili, Arabic, Persian, and Indian influences of the region’s past given the confluence of art and trade that makes up the culture of the region.
Bornman’s eyes brighten up as she talks about the elaborate and florally carved door frames on the island that inspired the block printing of geometric designs on her brand-new shirts.

Bornman has little desire to expand her brand past where it is now. I definitely shouldn’t admit it, but I’m content to keep things modest.
In fact, I believe it to be crucial,” she asserts. “During the rainy season, Sanga, a tailor I work with, returns to his home in Malindi, which is located near the coast. When it comes to stitching, he is discrete, experienced, and thorough. Not just for Ikeno, I just feel so blessed to have him in my life.

All the clothes Ikeno makes are sewn and tailored by Sanga. Bornman is the less reluctant of the two to serve as the spokesperson in their working business relationship.

Together, they are creating something considerate and innately eco-friendly. A company that is content to be virtually alone and pleased there.

When it comes to presenting the story of Ikeno, Bornman is also picky about her collaborators. To create the editorial for the brand’s most recent collection, she teamed up with the contemporary visual art collective 199x.
When Michael Mwangi Maina, an art director, and Fred Odede, a photographer, founded 199x, they were just two friends doing what they liked. Now, 199x is a highly sought-after agency.

Any customer we work with is aware that we need to handle the creative parts, according to Maina.

“We are skilled in subtlety.” In order to prepare for their arrival on Lamu, Bornman and I exchanged ideas. Photos of desirable sites were looked at, but even though Odede had already visited the island, nothing could have prepared Maina for it.

He says, “I can’t even put it into words.” “The sea was too much for me. the local atmosphere of the location, the hues of the sky, and the mangroves. Although almost too much, it was everything we had anticipated.

Along with three other members of their collective who were chosen to model, they spent seven days shooting. Even though the workdays were long, the evenings had a celebratory atmosphere, and as things started to fall into place, the entire experience turned into an adventure.

Being able to work and have fun, as Odede puts it, “felt like everything an artist needs. Although slow fashion is very important to us, we also wanted to let everyone know that Kenya was present. We intended for that to be felt both locally and globally.

When asked if their company was expanding internationally, Maina smiles and leans back. Both culture and fashion are reflected in our work, he claims.
We are the forerunners of full campaign editorial work in East Africa, therefore we know we can never run out of ideas here. With a serious nod, Odede continues, “Africa currently owns the vision, and we have taken up the role.” Across the globe from Lamu Island.

Content courtesy of Okay Africa & NFH 

Fashion Tribe Influencer

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