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Our personalities are not influential

By Crystal Okusa | February 7th 2016

Shiny and odd-looking sweater gave Sarah Palin some relevance.

It seemed no one heard what she said when she was endorsing Donald Trump as her sweater hogged all the attention.

Ironically, she had worn the same sweater in November last year to a TV interview but people did not make so much of it even though a viewer took a photo of it off the TV and only shared the screen grab  after the sweater took centre-stage recently.

After her latest appearance in the same sweater, it sold out and comedienne Tina Fey, who impersonates her on Saturday Night Live had to have one made.

So, what makes a politician’s outfit strike a cord with viewers that they all rush to the stores to buy it?

Nearer home, our politicians who are all over public places hardly influence our fashion sense.

I am made to understand most of them shop overseas when they go globetrotting, while others have personal tailors (mostly Nigerians who have settled in Kenya) or local designers who stitch for them West African vitenges.

Even then, their outfits never really catch on and the biggest losers might as well be the tailors or local designers.

It goes without saying that a politician endorsing a particular look or a dress, and people rushing to buy it boosts the personal fortunes of designers and the economy.

In the developed world, politicians and celebrities unconsciously endorse products, and within minutes, their sales shoot through the roof as people rush to buy them.

According to Brand Finance, UK Kate Middleton’s “stamp” on clothes contributes to £4.7 billion to the British economy.

The “endorsements” by her children, Prince George who will turn three in July and Princess Charlotte who is nine months old, contribute a cumulative £5.3 billion.

Even Michelle Obama endorses clothes and styles.

Apart from her ball gowns from up-and-coming designers, her more casual pieces like cardigans and floral skater dresses fly off the shelves the moment people see them on her back.

Our very own First Lady Margaret Kenyatta who is big on matters maternal health, plays it safe with her wardrobe but it would not be wrong if she chose clothes from up-and-coming designers and made them the talk of the town.

During the 2014 Oscar awards, Lupita Nyong’o unconsciously endorsed Clarins Hydra Quench Moisture Replenishing lip balm. That was her contribution to the pizza kitty when the host asked the guests to chip in to pay for the pizza she had ordered.

She did not plan to publicly endorse a product since she had no contract with the lip balm firm, but her fans saw that as a validation of the product.

What is it that stops fans of our local celebrities (if they can be called that) from falling over themselves to buy the products “celebs” have unconsciously endorsed?

Could this be a culture thing, or we just do not take our “celebs” seriously?

When Lupita was in Kenya and wore an outfit by designer Deepa Dosaja, Kenyans did fall over themselves to get a similar looking outfit.

You can argue that Lupita made the designer “visible” and those who did not know about her did then, and in the long run, she might make a windfall from the dress, but the point is that our designers and mostly celebs, have very little, or no impact on the local fashion industry.  

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