The fashion industry in Kenya has come a long way. In a country where bespoke outfits are offered by tailors, designers have always had stiff competition, not to mention the difficult task of differentiating themselves from the former. Today, the fashion industry enjoys contributions from first-rate designers, from contemporary to African designs, ready-to-wear to couture lines. The future of Kenya’s fashion industry is looking good.
1. Sally Karago
Of the veteran fashion designers in Kenya, Sally Karago stands out. She started her establishment, Mcensl Fashion House way back in 1992 and her designs are inspired by contemporary Africa. She was actually the first designer to incorporate the Maasai blanket and Kikoi fabric into her designs.
2. Katungulu Mwendwa
Growing up in Nairobi, Katungulu Mwendwa spent much of her childhood observing her late grandmother, who sourced materials from local artisans for her curio shop. Passionate about Kenya, the budding designer returned home as soon as she had completed her fashion degree in London to start her own contemporary fashion line. Experimenting with innovative fabrics, traditional methods and modern techniques, her timeless casual and semi-formal designs are fast gaining an international following.
3. Wambui Mukenyi
Wambui is the head of design at Wambui Mukenyi Fashion House. Unlike the other designers who went to fashion school, she is a self-taught designer. What she does is totally different from what she studied in her college years; Accounting. In 2009, when she founded the fashion house, she commenced from African designs to office wear where she made clothes for her clients, but they decided to settle on wedding gowns and ready-to-wear clothes full of creativity and style. Wambui Mukenyi Fashion House designs are inspired by passion, in how they dress their customers, their craft of clothes and design. Basically, they have a passion to excel.
4. Sara Mugambi
Sara Mugambi is a young Kenyan Fashion designer behind the Sarahkaray label. She describes her Sarakaray collections as bold, exquisite, out of the box, high end clothing. By the time she was just 22 years old, she had already costumed numerous celebrities in her country, including the Safaricom Choir. The Sarakaray brand exhibits ingenuity in the areas of colour, symmetry and finishes. It has been taken beyond the Kenyan borders where Sarah Mugambi has toured with full flavoured Kenyan designs.
5. Patricia Mbela
Patricia Mbela who has been in the fashion scene for 16 years is ranked among Africa’s top fashion and jewellery designers. She produces a collection of elegant fashion designs for both men and women, from knit wear to jewellery. She is the owner of the famed House of Agano in Kenya, also founder of the label POISA that is draped in talent and a fabulous eye for slick detail. From 1996 to 2003 she used to dress all the kenyan entrants to Miss World and Miss Malaika, and it’s in 2003 that she started designing ethnic jewellery as a technique to cope with grief after she lost her daughter through illness. She likes to call her brand ‘Wearable Art’ which has been showcased all over the world.
6. John Kaveke
John Kaveke, who I can comfortably refer to as the G.O.A.T, is an International Kenyan Fashion designer based in Nairobi. He is a graduand from Woodvale Grove Fashion college in Nairobi and later moved to Instituto Europeo di Design in Barcelona where he furthered his fashion studies. Being a bold and an original thinker, John does not follow fashion trends rather he creates his own.
His style is simple and comfortable and he very much understands how to play with colours. John Kaveke launched his first fashion label ‘Kaveke’ back in 2001, which is an exclusive gentleman’s brand that deals with tailor made suits and black being his favorite colour, most of his pieces are black.
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