Foreign brands in Kenya
President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a bill ordering, not even requesting civil servants to wear Kenyan made clothes every Friday.
I am yet to follow up on the details of the bill and how it will be enforced.
But I have to say that it is an interesting argument, considering how Kenyans have a fetish for foreign designs.
The former President, Daniel Moi, was quite stylish and he had a specific tailor that would make his suits.
According to this article by the Nation, that is “one of the most interesting things about Moi”.
His suits looked really good, and I can say he did an excellent job of promoting local talent by wearing Kenyan suits.
Most wealthy Kenyans would instead import their suits from abroad.
The government must have noticed that we are importing a lot of leather jackets from Italy and ignoring Kenyan made blazers designed by the likes of Kaveke.
Kenyan designers are equally good, and some of them like John Kaveke have had their designs reach international platform like showcasing at the New York Fashion Week.
That is no mean feat to achieve, considering how competitive the fashion industry is nowadays.
Everything is becoming a designer made of late. I mean, customised for a specific clientele.
People want bespoke. Something personal and not general. There is always a feeling of exclusivity when you wear a Versace or Armani Jeans.
And it seems like Kenyans want to feel special and that’s why they would go online and order some of the famous designer bags, watches and shoes from abroad.
These are some of the most common designs Kenyans rock:
Swiss watch. I used only to hear Hip Hop rappers rap about putting these gold watches on their wrists, but it seems some Kenyans are rich enough to spend on the rocks.
Kenyans like the craft that goes into watchmaking and how the Swiss people take their time into designing watches. They are excellent.
You can easily order an Audemar here.
They can make your handshake very expensive.
Imagine greeting someone with a $60,000 watch on the hands. Ain’t that a pricey greeting?
These are ladies shoes mostly. I see a lot of Nairobian women wearing Lacoste heels.
They are pretty affordable for a designer label. Lacoste shoes cost around Ksh6,000.
Lacoste has other items like shirts, polos and shades but what is most worn around are their awesome shoes. If you are a shoe freak, check out their sneakers.
The white ones are priceless.
This is some real designer now. Those other brands I talked about; Audemar and Lacoste are equally great, but there is something about Versace. Everyone likes this designer.
It is shiny and showy. I think a brand like Gucci is quiet but not Versace.
It is loud, and when you wear it, it screams that it is around. That is the best description I can have of Versace.
You will find Kenyans spotting on Versace pants and leather sneakers during big events. This is costly I must add.
A nice pair of Versace leather sneakers will incur you the damage of Ksh 80,000. It is a rich man’s brand in any part of the world.
Even in developed nations, I don’t think many people are ready to part with $800 for just a pair of shoes.
That is basically your entire closet on just one item.
I think Versace has been promoted a lot by music videos.
Kenyans consume foreign rap music a lot. And we see a lot of Versace in these videos, even our local rappers wear Versace a lot. It is a symbol of making it in the music industry. Wearing Versace.
They are very good for working out; their sports shoes, tank tops and sweats are your typical gym or yoga outfit. These are affordable, and you can even find them in open-air clothes market like Toi Market.
Under Armour is a sporty brand, I see them like Nike. This is the most consistent brand of late because I see it every day.
It is like a trend to wear Under Armour. At some point it was Supreme, but Supreme is very rare of late.
What is worn faithfully in the city is Under Armour.
Nairobians like wearing sweatpants and hoodies over the weekends. With that, they can go workout and still proceed to other hustles. It is a multipurpose outfit for the weekend.
The bags. I got the bag, and it is usually a Gucci handbag or belt that you will see with Nairobi ladies. What made Gucci famous in Kenya?
Is it the rapper Gucci mane? I don’t think so, but as far as 2009, it had been a famous brand in the local fashion scene.
This is one of the first big designs to pick up on Kenyans.
And it has been around for a long time unlike Under Armour that just became popular the other day.
Every brand has some stronghold, what it is best known for.
A brand like Nike is known for sneakers, even if they do hoodies and other outfits.
Gucci is known for nice belts. They have a very good logo too, it almost resembles that of Under Armour. The Gucci logo has two G’s on it while that of Under Armour has two C’s on it. The logo for Versace is a V.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, there is a lot of foreign brands enjoyed by Kenya; however, these are the most common of late.
And it is the love for quality that drives Kenyans to shop for these designer brands.
Kenyan designers also have quality, but they are yet to get popular within. They need more support from us. I think that’s why that bill was passed.
You are likely to see senior civil servants on Italian suits than on a Sir Henry suit.
However, young Kenyans wear Sir Henry suits for weddings and church on Sunday.
Another local designer that gets hired a lot is Fundi Frank.
We have some excellent tailors around if you want something tailor-made.