First in a 2 Part Series
When it comes to fashion, Kenya is not being left behind. Kenyans are extremely fashion conscious and they will go a long way to buy the latest trends in the market. Kenya’s fashion can best be described as a contemporary mix of western fashion mixed with traditional fashion. The fashion industry is, in many ways highly influenced by western fashion. This can be attributed to the higher levels of education and exposure as well as the fact that many fashion designers in Kenya have lived and trained in the west.
Many of the Kenyan designers are taking the traditional fashion of the local communities and glamorizing them to produce trendy pieces that are loved the world over. Kenya has more than 70 ethnic communities and each of these communities have different custom and traditions that have greatly influenced their fashion.
Consider the traditional lesso, commonly used especially by the Bantu communities. Years ago, the lesso was used for carrying babies on the back or wrapping around the body. Now, it has found an unquestionable place in Kenyan fashion. Many Kenyan designers have found creative ways to work with this printed and colorful fabric to create dresses, skirts, swim wear and, other designs.
The most famous community in Kenya to the rest of the world is the Maasai community. This popularity is simply because of how this community has managed to hold to their cultural practices as depicted by their way of life and cultural dressing.
Their traditional wear has now been adopted into the fashion world and you can now find just about any fashion item you need. There are shoes, hair accessories, jewelry, bags, home décor items and so on. The list is endless and the items are simply stunning. You will find these items being sold in the airport, market, game reserves and many other places especially where tourists visit.
Kenya has become an important fashion hub in Africa. This year, on the 4th of May Kenya will host the 4th edition of FAFA (Festive for Fashion and Art) http://fafakenya.org This will bring together the fashion heavy weights of Africa to connect with other fashion gurus from around the globe. Some of the big names expected to grace the event include KooRoo, Lalesso, Monica Kanari, Anna Adero, Kikoromeo, Palvika Rathod, and Paul-Herve Elisabeth.
Some years ago, top Kenyan designers were given the task of coming up with a national attire that all communities can identify with. While the results of this search were less than satisfactory and according to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6245435.stm, the results failed to impress and make a lasting impact, the fashion industry continues to grow and the country is in the right direction in terms of coming up with fashionable clothes that speak of its great heritage and culture. Imani (The Caribbean Current)