Trends in Kenya…or the lack thereof [Part II]


Essentially, this is a challenge to designers. Distinguish yourself and create create create. This is also to encourage designers to step out of their comfort zones (i.e Ankara/Kitenge everything) and be adventurous in their designs. If you are committed to use only Ankara/Kitenge, then create beyond the usual and provide something truly trendsetting. In using common materials, uncommon designs will truly speak out. It’s about creating beyond the norm. Taking a risk will truly distinguish your brand from another and therefore grow your brand. As a consumer, we will also not fall prey to boredom. [See post on Mvoo the Jeweller on stepping things out]

This is not to discount those few designers out there who are really trendsetting and pushing their way through the Ankara/Kitenge cloud and innovating with those materials. These designers are creating an identity in their brand distinguishable to them.



Let us delve deeper into that issue of trends. As mentioned previously, fashion events and especially Fashion Weeks are trendsetting events- a means for the who’s who in the Fashion Industry to know the latest trends and communicate in whatever form to the public. See post on Fashion Weeks in Kenya.

Fashion, as stated by Anna Hart, is about “influencing social standing, political control and evolutionary development.” It therefore cannot remain static, hence the evolution of fashion trends. There always needs to be a constant upward growth in all things, fashion being one of them- to represent development and to develop itself. This in turn translates into the designer’s body of work. One needs to analyze if a designer is actually growing and moving forward, pushing the boundaries and innovating or remaining static?

There is a need to constantly realize that we live in a society where the new, better, faster, bigger, novel and innovative ideas are key to staying relevant. Things are happening much faster and this correlates directly to the fashion industry globally. A trend in January 2013 has completed changed to the trends set in November 2013 which also means that those whose garments represent a newer trend in fashion will be able to sell and grow internationally. It’s a tough world out there. Designers need to understand that competition is fierce and those who are not able to stay afloat in being creative and innovative will only go so far. People buy what’s relevant and new and fresh and that is why it is important for designers to stay relevant by constantly designing, creating, innovating and challenging.  Playing it safe never got anyone anywhere.

Fashion is about influencing social standing, political control and evolutionary development.

The value chain in fashion simply means how a fashion house/designer receives raw materials as input, adds value to the raw materials through various processes, and sells finished products to customers. The link between raw material and the finished product is the creativity and identity behind the garment creating the value.

As Yara Salem stated in her article “Value Chains and me: Its more than just fashion:”

“As with the fashion industry, where you have to adapt very quickly in order to stay relevant, many countries need to quickly open up to new and different ways of doing things so as to compete within the global market where VC constitute its main nervous system. Hopefully, the IFC will be there when they do to help them add value to their own economy and society.

Value chains are not only fashionable, they are here to stay.”

So, take a look at your body of work and ask yourself one question. Am I staying relevant and therefore creating value through my designs and brand?

Next week, we provide some few tips on how to remain relevant, create value and contribute to creating trends.

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