Umbrella body launched for Kenyan fashion

Story by Laura Walubengo: Capital Lifestyle

The Association of Fashion Designers (AFAD) has finally been launched in the country after a three year wait, with the intention of bridging the gap between Kenyan fashion and the larger public.

Using the acronym AFAD (K), the association says that they can now effect the much needed changes in the Kenyan fashion scene. Though they came together in 2009, the association was registered under the Societies Act last year.

Kenya’s fashion industry has been hard-pressed to be profitable, forcing designers and models to eke out a living and hindering a majority of Kenyans from getting their hands on local designs due to their high prices.

AFAD hopes that by forging partnerships with textile manufacturers, government organisations and even fashion groupings overseas, they will be able to revolutionise the local industry.

“There is strength in numbers. As an association, we can represent and vouch for all the players in the fashion and design industry,” says Chairperson Sally Karago.

“Our objective is to…encourage the establishment of a distinctive Kenyan design industry and maintain excellence standards through education, training and competitiveness,” she added.

Stylist Connie Alouch andDesigner John Kaveke at London Fashion Week

AFAD will act as an umbrella body for fashion designers, accessory designers, hairdressers and even models.

“As long as they fall under fashion and design, our doors are open to them,” says Peggy Onyango, who is the assistant Chairperson.

“We will host workshops, work on quality control, provide a vibrant industry that school leavers can join and harness government support for our programs too.”

The AFAD plan of action will kick off with a catwalk fashion event dubbed Safari on Wednesday, November 23, where more than 10 designers will showcase their creations.

“Among those who will be showcasing their designs are Sally Karago, Cathy Obam, Esther Githae, Kavina Samba, and Monica Kanari. The event will be at carnivore, and tickets will retail at Sh3,000,” according to Sylvia Mwaura, who handles PR for AFAD.

Sylvia explains that the fashion show is dubbed Safari because it will also be held in all the major towns in the country, to tap into the unbridled talent outside Nairobi.

AFAD’s work seems solidly cut out for them.

Among their first initiatives is to chat with the stakeholders in charge of reviving the cotton industry to make textiles more affordable to designers and the end product friendlier on the pocket to consumers.

More and more Kenyans are being showcased on the international platforms, but not much is being done locally. Most of the designers fail to take charge of the global opportunities because they cannot afford to travel to the places they are invited to.

“It is a big challenge, and it is one of the things we will hope to provide support in,” Karago said.

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