Two University of NairobiÂ studentsÂ haveÂ qualifiedÂ for the Bata YoungÂ DesignersÂ Challenge. This will see them compete with otherÂ designersÂ in the world.
The one-weekÂ competition, that starts on April 11, will see Anita Wairimu and Cyprian Kiswili compete with other youngÂ designÂ talents from universities in the Czech Republic, Italy and Kenya in the the Czech Republic at Bata Fashion Weekend 2019.
The two applied for the challenge that Bata announced in September last year.
All sevenÂ designersÂ who were shortlisted for theÂ competitionÂ in Kenya were required to come up with prototypes of newÂ designÂ shoes from scratch.
They were also required to work in one group before they came up with their individual models. They were also to come up with group as well as individual working themes.
The seven chose â€˜Walk in the Savannaâ€™ as their working theme. Cyprian explains that the groupâ€™s theme was a uniting force.
â€œIt was the theme that allÂ designersÂ could agree on. More than three quarters of our country is savanna and we feel the theme unites us and will set us apart on theÂ globalÂ stage,â€ says Cyprian.
The UoNÂ studentÂ awaiting graduation came up with a shoe prototype that he named â€˜Blossmâ€™.
The name, he says, was inspired by the blossoming life of Konza, a town in the middle of the savanna. It is a black and yellow open unisex snicker.
Wairimu, on the other hand, who studies InteriorÂ DesignÂ at UoN worked around the Swahili culture and came up with a unique open shoe she christened â€˜Sandavaâ€™.
The winning shoes in the Czech Republic will be put into limited production and sold at select Bata storesÂ globally. The two winners were announced in January.
It was the first time that Bata organised aÂ globalÂ competitionÂ for young shoeÂ designers. The footwear manufacturer has in the past run a series of â€˜BataÂ DesignersÂ Apprenticeâ€™, aÂ competitionÂ that allowsÂ studentÂ and emergingÂ designersÂ to showcase novelty in creating new shoe models for the manufacturer.
TheÂ designersÂ present their concepts and prototype shoes to a Bata panel of judges who grade their work and determine the winner.
Directors ofÂ designÂ schools from UoN and the Technical University of Kenya in 2017 proposed theirÂ designÂ studentsÂ and graduates in the schools for theÂ competition. In the selection process, priority was given to textile, fashion and productÂ designers. Four winners who had outstanding shoe prototypes received cash awards from the shoe maker.
Bata Kenya Advertising Manager Keziah Kabutu said theÂ competitionÂ was a good platform for theÂ designÂ studentsÂ to start their careers.
â€œThis is such an amazing opportunity for theÂ students. It is beneficial for theÂ studentsÂ to get an insight into the industry and to give them a positive start at the outset of their careers. It really is a unique opportunity for theÂ studentsÂ to work alongside aÂ global, high street brand, and one with such a long heritage,â€ said Ms Kabutu.