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Three Kenyan designers selected to join Ethical Fashion Initiative’s Accelerator Programme

 The three designers share a commitment to sustainability (Photo: Instagram @hamaji_studio)

Three Kenyan designers have been selected to join the Ethical Fashion Initiative’s Accelerator Programme.

Katush by Katungulu Mwendwa, SUAVE and HAMAJI will benefit from mentoring and brand development from the EFI team and industry experts.

In a press statement by EFI, it was noted that the three designers share a commitment to sustainability, use reclaimed and organic fabrics for their creations and credit their country and upbringing as a source of inspiration.

“I feel hugely honoured to have this opportunity to expand my knowledge and be mentored in the development of my brand in a sustainable approach with international and local expertise in Kenya,” commented HAMAJI.

 Katush by Katungulu Mwendwa works with organic materials or those sourced as sustainably (Photo: Instagram @katushnairobi)

Katush by Katungulu Mwendwa said, “There have been times where it has felt completely overwhelming to have to learn to wear a thousand hats with limited guidance, and like an answer to a prayer often said, this comes as a strong statement of encouragement.”

“I’m really overjoyed to be selected for the EFI Kenya accelerator program. Looking forward to learning from the vast EFI network,” said Mohammed Awale of SUAVE.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) is a joint venture of the UN and WTO’s International Trade Centre. 

The EFI Accelerator programme targets established fashion brands who are already producing in Africa and need support to take their brands worldwide. It teaches beneficiaries to become investment ready. Since 2013, it has helped bring African fashion design to the global stage with designers to events such as Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, Pitti Uomo and Altaroma.

 HAMAJI was created around preserving ancient textile traditions and nomadic craftsmanship (Photo: Instagram @hamaji_studio)

“The continued development of our designer accelerator programmes in Africa, provide a new generation of African design talent the opportunity to engage with the international market,” said Simone Cipriani, Head and Founder of EFI. “Through education and mentoring we seek to equalise the playing field, giving exposure to the incredible talent that exists on the continent.”

EFI Kenya Fashion Accelerator first launched in 2019 with the aim of highlighting distinct design talent.

“Being able to launch a programme dedicated to Kenya - the country where EFI began its journey and where it has some of the most beautiful collaborations - is a wonderful opportunity to spotlight the creative visionaries that set this country apart,” Cipriani said.

 SUAVE aims to end the cycle of unwanted garments ending up in landfills (Photo: Instagram @suave_ke)

Katush by Katungulu Mwendwa was founded by Katungulu a Kenyan born and raised designer whose pieces are timeless, transcendent casual and semi-formal wear that extends beyond any season. They work with organic materials or those sourced as sustainably as possible.

Mohammed Awale, founder of SUAVE, aims to end the cycle of unwanted garments ending up in landfills. He was inspired by the heaps of oversized and discarded denim outfits he found while rummaging in Gikomba. This denim became the source material for most of the bags the brand makes.

HAMAJI is the brainchild of Louise Sommerlatte. It was created around preserving ancient textile traditions and nomadic craftsmanship whilst empowering local smallscale artisans in Africa. Their clothing are made from natural fibres, botanical dyes, hand craft, embroidery and upcycled collected vintage textiles.

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