Kenyan rapper and creative entrepreneur Nonini's Mgenge2Ru apparel is gaining ground in the US, buoyed by the concerts he is holding over there.
A pair of his limited edition leather shoes go for about Sh24,000. Other merchandise becoming the craze among his US fans include designer caps, suits, hoodies and wooden watches.
Nonini, real name Hubert Nakitare, moved to the US about four months ago, where he has been performing and pushing his Mgenge2Ru fashion brand, what he terms his main focus for now.
His latest design is a unique and limited edition shoe wear in which he has collaborated with Italian master-crafts AliveShoes.
Through its founder and CEO, Luca Botticelli, AliveShoes, certified Nonini’s designer shoes for distribution and sale to public this week.
The announcement comes days after Nonini and his team met the Floyd Mayweather African team in Las Vegas to discuss collaborative ideas they can work on touching on the apparel business.
“The shoes going for Sh24,000 are real international quality wear. They have been produced and endorsed by one of the best Italian shoe companies. I have created products, some of which target clients back at home and others that are specifically targeting the US market. US is a lucrative market because as you know, their economy is thriving and that is why my products are doing well here,” Nonini told Standard Entertainment yesterday.
“I am still working on my music with two major collaborations; one with Redsan and the other with Tanzanian rapper Chege, coming out soon. But I have discovered that all creatives in the world including US rapper Kanye West are trying to make it through brands.
"Fashion can take you places including those international fashion platforms like the New York Fashion week and so I have my eyes on the prize. This is where all my focus is now,” the celebrated hip-hop star who was part of the Kenyan hip-hop revolution in the 2000’s said.
Popular for his big songs such as 'Furahiday', 'Mtoto Mzuri', 'Keroro' and 'Nimetoka Mbali', Nonini started working on his fashion design Mgenge2Ru when he was still at Calif Records.
He recalls how he would visit Gikomba market to buy clothes that he would then brand and sell to his fans. This is how the popular Calif Records T-shirts came up.
“It is only that Mgenge2Ru apparel is exploding now otherwise what people are seeing now is a result of constant work dating back many years. The time I have put in this cannot be measured.
"In the last two years, I have put in about Sh2 million into the work and that tells you that since I have no partner this is real investment that has gone into it. I am trying to create merchandise that is self-sustainable and one that earns itself good international identity. This is a game changer,” he said.
Nonini's music career is also thriving.
“Last Saturday I performed in Oakland in California among other shows and it is during my interactions with fans that I am learning what they want in terms of fashion,” Nonini said.
Nonini is not the only Kenyan making it big in the US when it comes to fashion designs.
Zedekiah Lukoye, aka Zeddie Loky, the founder and CEO of California-based Blkkburd Genes has been making waves in US with his designs showcasing Kenya's exquisite features.
Recently, he hit international headlines after rapper Jay-Z was spotted wearing his designer T-shirt showing Lamu’s Riyadha Mosque.