The 7th edition of the Fashion High Tea (FHT) event went down on Saturday 25th, February 2017 at Zen Garden. The usual suspects of high profile personalities, fashion influencers, models and media converged in the lush gardens on Lower Kabete Road to enjoy an afternoon of indulgence. Amidst the food, drinks, networking and ambience there was a lot to be learnt:
Coalescence of Local Fashion
It may not be the entire industry coming together, but it’s a pretty good spread of local designers; with a few international to boot. The High Tea Boutique creates a platform for brands, established or new kids on the block, to showcase their collections to fashion lovers. As a shopper, you can always look forward to that excitement of discovering a new brand that captures your imagination or a specific piece that just elevates your personal style. But most importantly, you get to interact with the brains behind the brands to get a better sense of their perspectives and visions.
‘Love for a Cause’
From afar it may seem a profligate affair, but proceeds from FHT go towards supporting various local causes. This edition chose to support Imani’s Children’s Home in Kayole; which is a home that educates, nurtures and transforms the lives of abandoned and orphaned children. They also chose to support Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) – a grassroots movement that catalyses large-scale transformation in urban slums (Kibera, Mathare & Mukuru) by providing critical services for all, as well as, education and leadership development for women and girls. Caroline Mutoko, who has supported FHT since 2011, selects the special charitable causes FHT supports every year.
The ‘Street Style’ Stole the Show
No-one holds back in the style department at FHT so much so that it’s become the show stopper of the event. Men, women and children, alike were dressed to the nines, despite the wrath of the February heat wave this year. Perhaps it’s the presence of the media or Nairobians simply longing for an opportunity to wear something other than the norm (cough jeggings cough). Whatever the reason may be, each year sees the audience push the boundaries in the style department. Most notably, the brothers don’t shy away from print, colour or top-hat flare. We can’t stress how more men need to put this much effort in their looks and grooming more often! For the women, it seems to be an indicator of where fashion trends lie; crop-tops, high-slits and peek-a-boo couture to mention a few.
The Tea on Curated Experiences
One reason FHT is an event that people look forward to has to be the ‘experience’ factor. It’s a mixture of tapping into your five senses and establishing an emotional connection to make it memorable for the audience. That way people not only promote your event through word of mouth, they look forward to the next edition.
However, there’s this adaptive nature to the human memory. To strengthen a weakening memory, your brain would need new and relevant information to snack on and put an event right back on top. Especially if there’s a year of time in-between. So whereas the core formula of an event is solid, it wouldn’t hurt to add in elements of novel excitement and theatrics in presentation. Because let’s face it, customer fatigue and image fatigue is real. It’s the elements of surprise that shock, excite or appease that kicks the audience out of auto pilot and engages them.
Be it through curating the designers for collections that move away from a ready-to-wear feeling to those who capture the issues of the time like in New York Fashion Week, or stray onto the capricious side as was seen at London Fashion Week. Perhaps it’s about stepping away from the traditional rectangle runway and embracing shows that tell a story of their own. It may not be the carnival set-up of Tommy Hilfiger and Diane von Furstenberg’s disco-themed presentation in 2016, or JW Anderson’s use of corridors in his Fall 2017 showcase at LFW. However, it should be in a way that utilises the space in a whole new light.
There’s no doubt that this is a much-anticipated event on the fashion calendar. It boosts local fashion, gives back and lets people embrace their personal style on a public stage. But we look forward to how the FHT team will shake up the 8th edition. As Christopher Nolan quipped in Inception,