Two University of Nairobi students have qualified for the Bata Young Designers Challenge. This will see them compete with other designers in the world.
The one-week competition, that starts on April 11, will see Anita Wairimu and Cyprian Kiswili compete with other young design 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 seven designers who were shortlisted for the competition in Kenya were required to come up with prototypes of new design 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 ‘Walk in the Savanna’ as their working theme. Cyprian explains that the group’s theme was a uniting force.
“It was the theme that all designers 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 the global stage,” says Cyprian.
The UoN student awaiting graduation came up with a shoe prototype that he named ‘Blossm’.
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 Interior Design at UoN worked around the Swahili culture and came up with a unique open shoe she christened ‘Sandava’.
The winning shoes in the Czech Republic will be put into limited production and sold at select Bata stores globally. The two winners were announced in January.
It was the first time that Bata organised a global competition for young shoe designers. The footwear manufacturer has in the past run a series of ‘Bata Designers Apprentice’, a competition that allows student and emerging designers to showcase novelty in creating new shoe models for the manufacturer.
The designers present their concepts and prototype shoes to a Bata panel of judges who grade their work and determine the winner.
Directors of design schools from UoN and the Technical University of Kenya in 2017 proposed their design students and graduates in the schools for the competition. In the selection process, priority was given to textile, fashion and product designers. Four winners who had outstanding shoe prototypes received cash awards from the shoe maker.
Bata Kenya Advertising Manager Keziah Kabutu said the competition was a good platform for the design students to start their careers.
“This is such an amazing opportunity for the students. It is beneficial for the students 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 the students to work alongside a global, high street brand, and one with such a long heritage,” said Ms Kabutu.