Kenyan Stylist Represents South Africa in Brooklyn

Wamuhu Waweru, a Los Angeles-based Kenyan stylist and designer, guested a public event at one of Brooklyn’s leading fashion boutiques, Installation NYC Market, this past Saturday. Fresh back from a month-long trip to South Africa, Waweru showcased a colorful range of jewelry, clothing, shoes and traditional ornaments that she had bought from various local artists.

“I want to tell the story of the people who makes these,” she said of her display, which was so extensive that she had to transport it in six separate suitcases from South Africa. “I like to be true to the people that make them.”

All Photos by Chris Sommerfeldt

All Photos by Chris Sommerfeldt

Waweru did not present any original works on Saturday but explained that she is currently developing her soon-to-be-released clothing line InfiniteMiss. Having been in the fashion business for over a decade, Waweru says that she intends to travel as much as possible, to Africa and beyond, in order to find new inspirations. “I want to take at least one major trip a year,” she added.

Saturday’s event was co-hosted by Brooklyn-based fashion publication Livid Magazine and featured a number of designers and stylists, most of which showcased African inspired products. Installation NYC Market’s owner Israel David was wearing one of Waweru’s custom-made bead necklaces and looked content as he walked around the crowded boutique.

“If I had to explain [Waweru’s] work with two words it would be ‘authentic’ and ‘eclectic,’” said David, who was introduced to Waweru only two days before the event. “I’m extremely impressed by her work.”

On a different note, DIMG_2801avid mentioned that his shop is one of few remaining fashion and art venues in his neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He says that he opened up shop in the early 2000s with intensions to showcase local and emerging artists.  Today, skyrocketing rents are preventing him from doing that.

“What Brooklyn was going for is being taken away,” he said, noting that he pays $5,000 per month – a figure he says has more than four doubled over the past 10 years.

Waweru expressed solidarity with David, noting that she selects all her materials very carefully in order to “preserve culture for future generations.”

“I’m not just inspired by Kenyan or African art,” she said. “I love indigenous pieces of cultures worldwide and I try to incorporate it all.”

Footage from Installation NYC’s opening on Feb. 13, 2015.

Originally from Sweden, Chris is a journalist with an extensive interest for African culture and the arts.