Fashion event puts Kenyan designers on global map

 Story by Aamera Jiwaji

There was much to discover, and just enough to provoke in the recent Trendz Kenya fashion event at the Tribe Hotel.

It was a night of glamour as models wearing designs from local and international designers strutted down the catwalk, which was partially set up in the swimming pool. From urban chic to risque, it was a night that showcased Nairobi as one of the leading fashion destinations in Africa.

“Trendz Kenya has put Kenyan fashion on a global platform,” said Sonu Sharma, a fashion designer herself who trained in Delhi.

“There is so much creativity here in Kenya, so much that can be showcased. We, in Kenya, have come of age as a fashion industry so why should we be left behind?” Kaveke, one of the highly celebrated Kenyan designers, showcased his men’s fashion with his trademark colorful blazers on the catwalk.

His work, which he calls contemporary, incorporates different textures and fabrics, with thin African print ties, was well received by the crowd. Last year, he was invited to showcase at the London Fashion week and has participated in other international events.

Kaveke’s collection was followed by Tanzanian designer Ally Rehmtullah whose colorful feminine pieces showcased a blend of styles and fabrics.

Ally is known for his contemporary feminine designs, many of which include African jeweler and masquerade eye masks.

Layered feminine pieces were on show as the models took to the runway, dressed in black from head to toe. The Tanzanian-born designer took to the stage surrounded by his designs amid cheers.

Blackbird Jeans by Zeddie Lukoe and Syd Owino also exhibited at the event along with Nigerian-American designer Estella Ogbona and Severin Devailly, a French designer who has adopted Kenya as her home and represents the Euro-African mix in her work by combining bold kikoi and kitenge prints with the coarse texture of denim.

South African Paledi Segapo showcased his Palse Homme designs, which featured a diverse collection for men including briefs, suits, shorts and colorful African print blazers. His designs catered for both the fashion forward man and everyday conservative corporate fellow with the different blends of color from shorts to shirts and ties.

 In its third year , this year’s event exhibited clothing lines that had a sensational flair but were practical enough to be worn.

The decision to mix wearability with glamour was made by Sanjeev and Sonu Sharma, the husband and wife couple who organized the event.

One of the highlights was the ‘mummy tummy’ where mothers took to the catwalk and the winner, chosen by a panel of judges, was rewarded with a 51 inch TV by Samsung, one of the events sponsors.

Anita Dongre from India rounded off the international collection with her “empathy” line which has been described as embodying the desires, ambitions, dreams and sensuality of a woman.

“Our purpose in combining local and international designers,” Sonu explained,” was to allow Kenya’s designers to share the ramp with the fashion names of the world. For this reason, the entry fee for local designers was subsidized to allow young talent to benefit.

On the day of the gala, a three hour exhibition took place at the Tribe Hotel at which designers were invited to exhibited their creations to the public, both for display and for purchase, thus acting as a “golden bridge between demand and supply”.

“Fashion is an income generating industry,” said Sonu, “and this exhibition is for shopaholics.” The outfits on display were trendy and affordable and cost anywhere from KSh 3,000 upwards.


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