Kenyan musicians and celebrities in general have been thinking out of the box. Boosting their music sales, most of them have gone the extra mile to produce customised merchandise for their fan base.
Most make their clothes line, which they sell as merch. A number of international and local artistes have done this or have collaborated with other brands. It is a way to branch out and use their status to grow their brand and make more money.
When Wizzo Tanonane, the latest online soliloquy king from Buruburu called out local artistes for adopting fake high-end designers at the expense of their own local brands, it was a moment to introspect and actually ponder on what he was actually saying.
Artistes have lately been accompanying their music with different branded paraphernalia to help promote their music and build a connection with fans.
We have Fena Gitu’s headphones collaboration with Keep Pace Africa and the genius bag collaborations with Denri Africa. Octopizzzo aka Don Papichullo boasts of a cloth brand Seasaw that is an extension of his music brand and allows fans to share their love for fashion with the Namba Nane star.
Earlier on, Ochungulo family represented the smoking culture by tailor-making and marketing their very own rolling papers, Mbichwa.
This just shows how artistes in the +254 are not short of ideas on how to push products to their fan bases. They just really need the machine behind them, and that empowerment both for production of their ideas as well as the fans’ actually supporting by copping the goods rather than asking for hand-outs.
This can build a great relationship between fans and their favourite artistes, create a healthy economy for the music industry, as well as provision of jobs, and expand artiste brands beyond their wildest imaginations.
We look at some revolutionary Kenyan artistes and their merchandise that fans can rally behind:
Benzema – Fisi Slides
Although fans decided to run amok on Alejandro’s unique footwear brand Fisi, you cannot knock his entrepreneurial edge. Fans said he was selling condoms for footwear due to the see-through top part of the slides, with the branded Fisi logo, but this did not prevent them selling out. Alejandro priced his slick f*ckboy slides at Sh1,500 inclusive of delivery in Nairobi, even daring to mention them alongside Nike and Adidas, challenging Kenyans on why they would make other people richer. The slides retailed two colourways; red and pink, but only had one collection, as fans waited for the next capsule.
Nviiri – Kitenge Bundle
In the spirit of releasing his latest EP, Kitenge, Nviiri teamed up with Black Viking Fashion House, a pan-African brand that specialises in a variety of wax prints. Nviiri the stud has decided to model the numerous colour ways of his collaboration that offers full kits consisting of a hoodie and sweatpants. The hues include royal white, baby pink, charcoal black, sunflower yellow, cyber grape purple and a shamrock green. The cotton on the pieces is heavy and cold-weather ready, and further emphasises the pristine fabric quality Kenyans can manufacture.
Buruklyn Boyz – Clothing Line
The infamous Kwani ni Kesho crew is well known for their style. From endorsing different Japanese brands like Evisu, to throwback Football jerseys and khaki Dickies suits, they pull looks so effortlessly and manage to create their own identity. Currently, they have evolved to starting their own clothing line that predominantly sells branded denim pieces from jackets, plank shorts and bandana print pants. They have a range of interesting items at affordable prices. They also make a point of selling branded box T-shirts with every single they produce that many fans have grown to have an affinity for.
TNT – QBE Clothing Line
Another hip hop crew known for wearing luxury items and carrying the braggadocio bling bling hip hop culture, TNT, have mint branded khaki bandana wear and tough stitched denims. Since being signed to Vice Life Entertainment, the TNT brand has been fashion savvy and known for sporting the most exclusive wear. With their brand however, manager Jinx says they aim to appraise Kenya’s garment industry and create value for Kenyan-made ateliers. You could never walk a day in Kilimani and miss a number of badboys and pretty girls in some of their rebellious graphic clothing.
Wakadinali - Rong Rende Brand
Eastlands’ finest hardcore rap group Wakadinali are more than controversial hard-hitters; they have an unmatched business acumen and this compliments their income outside of music. They not only sell music as rapper Domani infamously quotes on the song Morio Anzenza, “Si tunapiga hustle, kings tunaawachia castles...’’, but are also entrepreneurial juggernauts that push branded clothing, lighters and merchandise, including CD Players. The fact that they are not concerned with being modern, and that they do music business in a wholesome manner even pushing CD Players, which may be considered outdated, shows you how invested they are into making a coin out of every possible means, respectfully.
DJ Crème de la Crème- Esko Clothing Line
DJ Crème de la Crème is one entrepreneur that has been going against the grain to make something for himself. He is doing it in a very big way, and we are not talking musically. He has that covered since he is not only a disk jockey, but also a record producer. Businesswise, his company Esko took the streets by surprise. For about three years now he has been setting standards in the fashion industry with his custom made shirts, hoodies, beanies, sweatpants and caps. Everything is classy on its own way and fellow entertainers and fans are feeling it too. Beyond these acts others such as MDQ, Vallerie Muthoni, Khaligraph Jones, Barak Jacuzzi and Kaka Empire, are some of the premium Kenyan acts that dabble in the merchandise collectible items sphere. The gross of the industry can be spiked if Kenyans slowly accept this as a part of their culture, and help boost local consumerism.