BY ELI CHEP & EVE CHEGE
Early in December of last year, a selected group of leading Kenyan designers were showing at a pop-up shop at 53 Monmouth Street in London, UK.
Through Festival for African Fashion and Arts (FAFA), Wherever the Need (a charity) and Sapelle.com, whose opportunity was sure to put Kenya’s fashion on the radar of one of world’s most fashion influential cities.
“We are very grateful to Wherever the Need, who inspired by our use of culture to bring people together, opened doors in London, which is normally very difficult. We would like the sophistication and quality of our fashion brands to be showing a new face of Kenya, a Kenya at 50, which is the Kenya we all love and aspire to build,” said Ann McCreath, the founder of FAFA and the fashion house KikoRomeo during a phone interview with our fashion correspondents.
At the start, they had opened it to those designers selected for the FAFA gala night, but now the opportunity to take part is open to all Kenyan designers with high quality products.
The shop currently has Deepa Dosaja, Kooroo, Anna Adero, Niku Singh, Suave Bags, KikoRomeo, Embody Accessories, Riri Jewellery, Nick Ondu, Jamil Walji, Maasai Treads and Peperuka as well as other brands stocked on sapelle.com.
“For the FAFA show that was part of Festival Kenya, by Wherever the Need, we had six clothing designers: Anna Adero, Jamil Walji, John Kaveke, KikoRomeo, Kooroo and Katungulu Mwendwa and Ajuma Nasenyana as the lead model as well as Knicco Hodge and Iona McCreath. They used other designers’ jewellery and accessories. Kenya Airways, through its London office, was the major sponsor of that event which was a charity dinner to raise money for water projects in Laikipia in the first quarter of 2014,” she said.
She points out that this pop-up shop will give a chance for Kenyan fashion to make a name for itself in a market that is dominated by West African designers, especially Nigerian and Ghanaian. They will also take the lead when it comes to the prestigious annual Africa Fashion Week London. Ms McCreath hopes that such partnership can be a regular feature in the FAFA calendar of activities this year.
“We aim to take Kenyan brands to the world. FAFA is now a recognizable brand in itself, known for quality products and production. We are using this chance to leverage market visibility both internationally and locally,” she said.
The new collections featured from the designers were mainly autumn/winter and party wear. DHL, the logistics sponsor, shipping goods to and from London was also free for the designers.
They will be doing a number of photo shoots using stock from the shop with Emmanuel Jambo (a Kenyan photographer) and Joseph Hunwick (a leading international fashion photographer) who has shot for FAFA and other UK publications. Former FAFA make-up artists, Muthoni Njoba and Saima Rashid, will be assisting with make-up.
FAFA has also been invited by British Fashion Council’s Esthetica to share a fashion video to screen at their next edition next month come February. Esthetica was founded six years ago in response to the growing movement of ethical or eco-sustainable fashion brands/houses.