Singer Kahush dressed in Creme de la Creme's Esko designs. [Photo: Joshua Agwanda]

Locally designed clothes and brands are causing ripples in the fashion scene. Most of the new Kenyan clothing lines and other textile products that are catching global attention are owned by entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry. One such entrepreneur is Tedd Josiah, who owns Jok A Jok line. 

Since its introduction a few years ago, Jok A Jok has become a celebrated brand. Tedd started the line in honour of his late wife who was a fashion enthusiast and designer. Though the quality speaks for itself, Tedd describes it as a luxury, African, leather brand with the materials and labour sourced from Kenya. “I spent three years in research before launching Jok A Jok,” he said.

“Our customer experience makes us unique. We focus on love, honour and integrity and giving the customer quality products that they can pass as heirlooms.” Before Jok A Jok came along, there was a bag brand, Denri, which offers a wide range of bags for school, travel, laptops and even has handbags. Singer Fena Gitu, who is the Denri brand ambassador, also has her fashion line dubbed Fenamenal Style.

“Being strongly tied to my music brand, the fans get to express their individuality and authenticity through our designs as best as they can, as this is what the Fenamenal community represents,” she stated. “We hope to grow a following of cool, unapologetic Africans in pursuit of global excellence.” Deejay Crème De La Crème also ventured into the clothing industry and created his own clothing line dubbed Esko Life.

The line is popular among celebrities across the region. The collection comes in a plain or unique designs like a panda and a Greek statue. The T-shirts and hoodies come in an array of colours. Crème said: “The inspiration comes from Pablo Emilio Escobar, the Colombian drug lord. It has nothing to do with drugs but rather the kind of dream and vision that Escobar held while he was still a child.

MARKET IS READY

“The biggest challenge young Kenyan designers are facing is capital. Many have great ideas to roll out and the market is ready for this as we are receiving more orders than we can supply to,” he adds. Even then, the journey has been from Kenya to the world. The world came to learn of the Kenyan brand El Afrique after it was featured on singer Beyoncé’s website.

El Afrique has attracted big names in the local entertainment industry such as Le Band, Shaq The Yungin and Wangechi. They also offer ready-to-wear clothes. In an interview with Spreadzone, Whitney Nasanga, the founder of El Afrique, shared how she appeals to the market. “We keep up with the trends; what’s popping, what’s nice, the best materials to use. We are also all-rounded, we don’t only stick to African prints.”

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Suave is yet another globally recognised clothing line that specialises in upcycled bags. They convert ordinary, everyday bags into unique designs using Ankara. The line is the brainchild of Mohamed Awale, who quit his corporate job to start the business. He produces around 200 bags a month. The bags are also sold in Germany and UK. The other clothing line is Home which became popular with the rise of athleisure wear.

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The stylish and comfortable T-shirts, hoodies and sweatsuits have become a wardrobe staple. Then there is Peperuka clothing line that uses favourite Kenyan phrases like “Me, I Love Kenya”, “Kwa Ground Vitu Ni Different” on T-shirts, hoodies or mugs. Endo Squared brand has handcrafted jewellery, T-shirts, tote bags and jeans bearing line drawing style. Actress Bridgette Shighadi’s Yedu brand has elegant designs in African prints and other materials.