We all know how popular the hashtag #100DaysofAfricanFashion was, yes? No? If you don’t know about it, Fashion Stylist Diana Opoti created the hashtag where she wore and adorned different clothes from different designers from all over Africa. From clothes, bags and jewellery, she celebrated the exquisite talent from all corners of the continent. Almost in the same steps, last week, Brand Kenya launched an initiative where they want to encourage Kenyans to adorn Kenyan brands, designed and produced by Kenyans, every Friday, as a break away from the official corporate attires.
The immediate aim of the initiative dubbed “Kenya Fashion Fridays Challenge” is to have all corporates take up the challenge of moving away from the much-awaited dress down Friday of t-shirts and jeans, to having employees embrace and celebrate locally made attire and proudly showcase our national pride, culture and heritage through contemporary Kenyan fashion.
During the launch, CEO Brand Kenya, Mary Luseka said: “Branding a nation starts with local Branding before going International. The journey begins with every Kenyan embracing our culture and heritage, then celebrating it and expressing themselves through it as reflected in our creative arts industries and in particular our fashion. All we need to do is wear a minimum of one piece of clothing and accessory that is Kenyan. The impact of this is that we will have potentially 45 million billboards showcasing and promoting Kenya. Imagine how big such an industry would be if we all wore Kenyan – made! From leather products, beaded accessories, textiles etc the opportunities are unlimited. This initiative will go a long way in supporting our local designers, tailors, cotton ginneries and leather tanneries, our cotton farming, etc hence expanding the value chain and creating more employment in the long run. It will also support the Buy Kenya, Build Kenya agenda.”
The global fashion industry is estimated to be worth US $1.3 trillion in Africa, it could be worth $15.5 billion in five years as personal incomes grow. More than one billion people in Africa are now upwardly mobile. Over the next decade, Africa will be lucrative frontier opportunity as both a source of production and a consumer market for fashion. Textile and clothing is the second largest sector in the developing world after agriculture. A large percentage of this workforce is made up of women because it is labor intensive; it has great scope to offer employment and to transform the lives of many women and youth across Africa.
The Manufacturing industry is one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s “Big Four Agenda pillars” which have been earmarked as a key driver in boosting Kenya’s economic agenda in the next five years. This pillar focuses on the leather and textile industry which has shown potential growth in the demand for locally produced raw materials and manufactured products.
The growth of the local fashion industry means supporting leather and textile manufacturers, fashion designers, stylists, models, and all those people along the value chain. Promoting our local fashion designers is therefore one way of contributing to the overall “Big Four” national development agenda,” Ms Luseka added.
The President during the launch of the Big Four gave a directive that the disciplined forces procure all boots, leather products and textiles from local manufacturers as from the 2018/19 financial year. The directive shows the willingness to promote Kenya’s local products and grow the manufacturing industry.
The Kenya Fashion Friday’s initiative will go a long way in reminding Kenyans that we have the potential to position the country as a key industrial and fashion hub for Africa. So far, the number of corporates and government entities that have come on board in support of the initiative, while rallying their employees to adopt uniquely Kenyan brands on Fridays has grown tremendously.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, through an internal circular, declared Friday an African wear day. Other corporates to embrace fashion Fridays are the Regional Logistics Company Siginon Group and Gulf African Bank who have rallied their staff in support of local designers.
Brand Kenya Board is urging every Kenyan to take up the cue and promote local leather and textiles industry by mainstreaming authentic Kenyan fashion into the corporate wear in Kenya starting with every Friday and later on every day of the week.