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Evolution of Kenyan fashion industry

By For Citizen Digital

A Model in one of Kiko Romeo’s Designs
A Model in one of Kiko Romeo’s Designs

The fashion industry is defined by the individuals who comprise it: Textile Manufacturers, Designers, Stylists, Models, and even media personalities.

Fashion in Kenya specifically, has evolved from cultural functional clothing of our ancestors to urban styles that incorporate individual tastes and style prejudices.

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The fashion industry in Kenya has evolved, not only in terms of clothing, but also with relation to the major players in the industry: the fashion industry as we know it today was not the same 20 years ago.

BIRTH OF TALENTED FASHION DESIGNERS

A Model in one of Kiko Romeo’s Designs
A Model in one of Kiko Romeo’s Designs

Back in the day, the only clothes designers we were accustomed to were the tailors in our estate; when Anne McReath opened up the first Kiko Romeo shop in the 1990s, designers were inspired to step out of their comfort zone and create designs that could be sold to the mass market.

Today the Kenyan Fashion Industry is inundated with talented designers who take designing to a whole new level.

 DAWN OF MODELLING INDUSTRY

International Model Ajuma

Fast forward to the early 2000s when Ajuma Nasenyana gained international recognition for her beauty and talent in modelling, setting the pace for other models who came after her.

Modelling is now a serious career, and unlike before, we now see Kenyan models pay their bills with the money they earn from modelling.

LAUNCH OF FASHION MAGAZINES AND STYLISTS

Around this time, the fashion industry had also established itself well enough to produce enough content for the first fully-fledged fashion magazine, True Love.

This was the beginning of an era for stylists like Carol Odero and fashion photographers like Emmanuel Jambo, whose work was featured in these magazines.

Back then pursuing a serious career as a stylist or a fashion photographer was unheard of and most of these people had to rely on a second job to make ends meet.

We only knew the few that we saw on the magazines but now we cannot get enough of them.

 FASHION BLOGGING

Bloggers are the newest flare-up in the Kenyan Fashion industry, something that was totally unheard of ten years ago.

Technology has helped people who have an innate passion for fashion translate that passion into successful careers, showing interested readers on how to embrace fashion as part of daily life.

Fashion Blogger Sharon Mundia of Thisisess.com
Fashion Blogger Sharon Mundia of Thisisess.com

CELEBRITY AND MEDIA PERSONALITY FASHION 

Entertainment and fashion go hand in hand, so with the rise of the fashion industry in Kenya we have also seen celebrities up their game in terms of fashion.

Red carpet events are increasing each year and whenever the artists attend an event, they ensure that they look camera ready to show off their stylish garments.

Media has not been left behind in the growth of the fashion industry in Kenya, there was a time when our TV anchors only wore dark colored suits as they presented the news for us, now our media houses have extended their dress policies to include more color and style.

Citizen TV News Anchor Lillian Muli
Citizen TV News Anchor Julie Gichuru

Lillian Muli, Anne Kiguta, Julie Gichuru are just but some of the media personalities whose fashion and style is reflected by what they wear on screen.

FASHION IN TV PROGRAMMING

In terms of programming, the media houses have done quite a lot to incorporate fashion in their content. For instance Citizen TV’s Fashion Watch examines Kenyan fashion informing the audience on the Dos and DONTs when it comes to fashion.

Over and above everything mentioned above, the fashion industry in Kenya has evolved to a point where we are recognizing and awarding all these Key players in the industry for their extraordinary work within the fashion realm.

“It takes courage to follow one’s talent, courage that must be recognized and rewarded” says Jumia’s MD Parinaz Firozi “We hope that those recognized will continue to nurture and inspire others”.

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