What adjective would you use to describe the Kenyan fashion industry? This honestly depends on who you are and whether you have had any experience working in the industry.
At the start of Shop Zetu’s “Powering Fashion Made in Kenya” event, Wandia Gichuru CEO and Co-founder of both Shop Zetu and Vivo Group who was new to the industry slightly over a decade ago shares that Kenyans are not only ready and willing to buy local brands but are more than ready to work to deliver quality products.
It is not a surprise that recent statistics still show that a very small percentage of Kenyans (less than 10) own a local brand? Although we have many tailors markets that may make clothes, shoes, and bags there’s still a need to have recognized Kenyan brand names. Basically, a lot of work still needs to be done to get us to where we need to be.
The event held on the 18th of July 2022 brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss how we can better work together in support of “Kenyans wearing Kenyan”. Moderators included Caroline Mutoko, SME Advisor to the President Anne Mutahi, Connie Aluoch, Patricia Kihoro, Elsie Glamour Founder Esther Nyawira, Mark Stephenson (Sandstorm Kenya), and HEVA Fund’s Wakiuru Njuguna.
“The fashion sector is designated as a priority industry and as one of the pathways to industrialization in Kenya’s Vision 2030 because of its incredible economic potential and its capacity to create large numbers of jobs, generate income, strengthen trade, accelerate technology adoption, attract investment and promote local entrepreneurship (with the majority being women and youth entrepreneurs). Yet the results of a recent survey showed that only 5% of Kenyans buy ANY clothes or accessories that are made in Kenya. According to a recent study by the British Council, “the Kenyan fashion market has been described as complex, and hard to figure out and satisfy”. This presents a great challenge and a massive opportunity across the value chain.
With a #MadeinKENYA dress code, Instagram stories were not only populated with new Kenya brands to take note of but also gems those who attended learned from the event. “
“It takes more than one to build a family, a community, and an industry. Collaboration will be key to grow and harness this incredible opportunity – Fashion made in Kenya. That’s my biggest takeout from this morning’s conversation on #wewearkenyan powered by #Shopzetu. Thank you Wandia Gichuru for creating the platform.” – Patricia Ithau
However, you choose to describe the Kenyan fashion industry or scene; it definitely feels like things are going in the right direction.