Since 1902

The prints charming

Nairobi; Kenya: Africa, is without a doubt the cradle of authenticity, owing to the profound levels of creativity found in different communities.

Fortunately, this authenticity is spread to “fashionable” levels and can be traced back to our forefathers who wore the native animal prints and skins long before the trend caught up with the wayward West.

Skins from lions, cheetahs and leopards worn by kings back in the day would equate to the modern day animal prints with an ounce of royalty, while sisal skirts, and rosy neckpieces donned by women equating to the floral prints which are a favourite during the spring and summer.

With time, these prints have evolved to become “high fashion” pieces with revered designers like the Louis Vuittons and Giorgio Armanis of this world striving to unleash the most unique versions of each print and capitalising on them.


Back in the day when most boarding secondary schools unanimously picked printed bed covers for their students — with the prints differing from one class to another — who would have thought they would serve other purposes besides covering up beds?

You can imagine how shocked I was to see lean high fashion models strutting similar designs at the New York Fashion Week, and to think that making the bed was a routine I loathed.

Surprisingly, what many probably dumped in school, now makes for fabrics that are tailored into outstanding pieces with blazers going for approximately $895 (Sh78,000), not to mention shirts and shorts whose prices are as high as $1350 (Sh118,000).

Fortunately you do no have to import such pieces because our local designers are doing a great job at publicising the trends at home.

I mean, go to any outdoor events and you will spot Kenyans wearing the Ankaras, vitenges, graphics and floral prints which are ever on trend and are stylish.

The best part is that you can get well tailored ensembles for as little as Sh10,000 and prices can be higher depending on the scale of details involved.

Unfortunately, many men are not daring enough to wear trendy prints, with  the few who do opting for monotonous waxed prints which are common with politicians on the campaign trail.


Most of these waxed prints feature drawings of animals, or perhaps their party symbols but I feel that it is time they took their style a notch higher.

Once in a while, they should ditch the mass-produced prints and consult up-market designers who can stitch for them exclusive pieces so they can make fashion statements, and not just political rhetoric.

Other men will never be caught wearing colourful prints, and many are likely to say that “the mere fact that you are wearing animal prints suggests that you are not as feral or aggressive as you are presumed to be.”

Anyone who wishes to wear the trendy prints can do so as confidently as they wish and, fortunately for the uninitiated, there is always a first time.

You have to appreciate the fact that modern men have options, in patterns and prints as well.


A good place to start is by understanding that they range from the staunch stripes, bloomy flowers, natives, camouflage, plaid, polka dots and even animal prints which can be further sub categorised.

Florals often have a feel-good vibe that is great for outdoorsy activities and will often be spotted at social gatherings.

Polka dots and animal prints are slightly on the daring side.

However, such prints should not be paired up with neutrals for that coordinated allure.

You do not want your staples looking like they are competing.

Geometric prints are the best picks owing to their manly vibe, and perhaps the fact that they are often spotted on the streets so you will not attract too much attention whenever you wear them.

Native plaid is perhaps the most complex type to match up and the fashion elite have made it a favourite owing to their ‘scarcity’.

Once you have mastered the art of wearing prints in different shapes feel free to spice up your footwear by adding trendy shoe prints featuring floral, geometric and animal motifs as seen at Erdem, Prada or Chanel.

The best part about all this is that you can import the originals or perhaps get a local designer to tailor make them for you.