As the fashion world rises from the last two years of chaos and adapts to the changing creaive business models, we desperately need initiatives that dictate new rules. Stuck in the European and USA-centric perspectives, the industry often forgets to shift focus onto the other regions with rich artistic soil. It’s about time to humble ourselves and instead of looking to blend foreign influences into the mainstream trends, give voice to the designers. That’s exactly what a project Creative DNA 2.0 is here to do.
Supported by the British Council, an international platform empowering the future faces of fashion, Fashion Scout, and FAFA Kenya, (Festival for Fashion and Arts), focused on bringing together African fashion designers from across the continent, used their resources to build a forward-thinking talent incubator. Twenty designers have been engaged in a three-month programme to amplify their presence on the scene from the creative and retail aspect.
The final quest for individuality set in the vibrant Nairobi art environment was celebrated in three shoots under a shared title of ‘Identity’, exploring its meaning, personal freedom, and modern expression in post-Covid Kenya, created by photographer Maganga Mwagogo and stylist Dwayne Kenzie.
“Fashion is a liberating form of self-expression, and Dwayne and I set out to explore and celebrate this. The styling and make-up are striking, empowering the models, and enabling them to truly stand out from the crowds. They show that people can get out of their comfort zones and experiment” Maganga explains. Dressed to impress, but mostly themselves, the models are the embodiment of what the contemporary African fashion industry has to say to the rest of the globe. It shouts, we here, original as ever and ready to surprise with mind-blowing solutions and designs, twisting the traditionality so it takes new, exciting shapes.
Creative DNA 2.0 proves that fashion can be a career choice for young, aspiring designers in Kenya and a valid sector of the country’s economy. It opens their eyes to the horizon of possibilities, just before we see it with our own. As they’re already two steps ahead of us.
Here’s a round-up of the most exciting designers who joined the project. Catch up on their brands before they’ll go places.
Tug’s manifesto is a simple one – be different. Since 2019, the brand showcases androgynous garments that fiercely represent what they’re all about: inclusivity and gender equality while fostering an eco-chain of production. Locally and ethically sourced fabrics from factory off-cuts are the base of their designs, often created in collaboration with tailors living in underprivileged areas in Nairobi. From ready-to-wear to made-to-measure lines, they set new standards for any independent brand. Their minimalistic and smartly executed pieces are edge-cutting. Proud to be a part of the African new narrative, TUG is here to push for the change.
An alternative streetwear brand founded by Daudi O’ Aims flirts with Kenyan heritage and modern forms. That attitude results in genderless pieces mirroring the individuality of anyone who wears it. Always on the verge of comfort and danger, Metamorphisized finds a sweet spot in between the two, proposing a revamped wardrobe, embracing everyday elegance. We stan it.
Tiger Tail Twister believes that what we wear is the loudest statement of expression. That’s why they’re crystal clear when stating what they’re all about: ethically handcrafted, bespoke jewellery inspired by African design and culture. The brand melds spiritual symbols and historic motifs into beautifully complex art pieces. From multi-layered ring-bracelets, asymmetrically dripping earrings to a criss-cross mesh top inspired by a common weaving pattern found on traditional African beaded pieces, their clash of old and new is truly breath-taking.
Don’t trade your authenticity for approval, the brand praises. Vazi Maridadi proudly stands behind their tribal, Kenyan culture influences designs hand-made in a fashion house created by Venesa Julia. The brand is versatile enough in its playfulness with silhouettes featuring oversized ruffled sleeves or flower-like tailored garments to ready-to-wear pieces like beaded vests and bags for all genders and occasions. Their self-crafted world is blooming with colour and courage to show some creative flair. It’s flashy in the best way possible.
Find out more information online here.