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10 Kenyan Fashion Designers Disrupting The Global Runway

The Fashion Design industry in Kenya is just beginning to make a notable impression on the lucrative international market. In May 2022, Rihanna’s Fenty label launched in Kenya. Kenya takes many cues from the many countries, but mostly the United States. The young and middle-aged Kenyan wants to look good. For social media, and because it is 2022. But who is leading this fashion revolution? Here’s a list of 10 renowned Kenyan fashion designers you need to know.

1. Sally Karago

Sally Karago is a fashion design veteran who pioneered the fashion industry since the early 90s when she launched the Mcensal fashion house. Since then, she’s never stopped gracing the Kenyan fashion scene. In 2009, Sally founded the Mcensal school of fashion to give up-and-coming fashion designers a solid foundation when venturing into their careers.

Sally was the first fashion designer to incorporate Maasai blanket and Kikoi fabric into her designs, inspired by contemporary Africa. In 2014, Sally Karago added yet another brand under her belt. The SK Collection is a ready-to-wear line for all ages. This steady and versed fashion designer has won many accolades including the Smirnoff Awards Kenya and the Mnet Face of Africa.

2. Patricia Mbela

Patricia Mbela has loved fashion and garment construction since childhood and at the age of 14, young Patricia decided that she would become a fashion designer. She has been showcasing her talent through fashion and jewelry design for 16 years and is ranked among Africa’s top fashion and jewelry designers, producing for both men and women.

The fashion designer is based in Nairobi and is the proud owner of the famed House of Agano. Patricia is also the founder of the label, Poisa. The label has transformed how Kenya views fashion, due to its uniqueness. Patricia was among the two designers chosen to provide for the Nokia face of Africa shoot. She likes to call her brand “Wearable Art” which has been showcased all over the world.

3. John Kaveke

Founded in 2001, the John Kaveke label is the brainchild of a twist on contemporary African bespoke tailoring style. John Kaveke is one of the most sought-after designers in Kenya.

His designs have graced catwalks such as African London Fashion Week {London}, Sarajevo Fashion Week (Bosnia), Hub of Africa (Ethiopia), Swahili Fashion Week (Tanzania), Uganda Fashion Week (Uganda), M-Net Face of Africa (Nigeria), The Big Brother Africa House (South Africa), Catwalk Kenya (Nairobi), Lake Magadi project, Festival for African Fashion & Art (Nairobi), and the International Smirnoff Fashion Awards (Nairobi).

4. Vivienne Taa

Vivienne Taa is a key figure in the African fashion industry. The founder of the renowned fashion house Vivienne Taa specializes in blending African prints, contemporary fabric, and designs into beautifully styled exotic clothes and accessories for fashion lovers, both men, and women. Her brand is also known for creating fashionably bespoke, occasional, and bridal wear, custom-made uniforms, and ready-to-wear clothing.

Although her brand is new to the market, it has made tremendous growth, set apart by its innovation and skillful attention to detail. Her designs draw inspiration from the African culture, especially music and art.

5. Wambui Mukenyi

Wambui Mukenyi is a steady, pro, and versed fashion designer in the industry. Though self-taught, Wambui Mukenyi has received national recognition. The founder of the WM Label has been showcasing her love for luxurious fabric, whilst at the same time instilling her African heritage to produce timeless, feminine, and elegant pieces since 2009.

Wambui then extended her brand into making African wedding gowns and ready-to-wear clothes full of creativity and style. Her effortlessly stylish and creative pieces, known to reflect her client’s personality and style, have been featured in many fashion magazines in Kenya.

6. Jamil Walji

Jamil Walji is a couture bridal designer, who has been doing amazing things in the Kenyan fashion scene. So much so, that he showcased his work on international fashion platforms. Inspired by the concept of starting a couture bridal line, Jamil wanted to be a part of his client’s big day to help develop spectacular gowns made to measure the bride’s specific. Although brides can be a challenging group to work with, Jamil loves working one one one with brides to develop the ultimate gown.

7. Faith Migwi

Faith ‘Manciny’ Migwi has made her name in the Kenyan fashion scene. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Faith because she is also self-taught. In 2012, Faith Migwi dived into the deep end of this pool, which is the fashion and design industry in Kenya, where she started off by designing clutches and bags made from recycled plastic paper bags. Faith is the brainchild of the Manciny Designs, a man’s wear brand inspired by contemporary Africa.

Faith is also the founder of  “Nyadhi”, a women’s wear brand, and “The Urban Gentleman”, a men’s brand that provides styling and design services for men.

8. Laura Lwala

Laura Lalwa is one of the youngest Kenyan Designers who must be celebrated. She is known for her jewelry designs made using beads and metal. Much of her work uses brass, her metal of choice to create unique pieces of jewelry, where every piece is different from the other. Today she is killing it in the fashion scene with her collection. Some of the popular people in Kenya who have worn her pieces include Sharon Mundia and Cece Sagini.

Laura Lalwa is the pioneer of the brand Pryde Arts.

9. Nick Ondu

Nick Ondu is the CEO of Ankara Vintage, a leading fashion house in Nairobi. He is also known for dressing the famous “Sauti Sol”, an award-winning Afro-pop group in Kenya. He not only designs for men but has also included women’s designs in his collection. Nick Ondu’s designs stand out from crowds due to his attention to detail and his focus on ethnic prints. He recently launched a new collection “The Sartorial Man”  an impeccable fusion of indisputable British elegance and indefectible Italian style.

He has graced many runways including FAFA (Festival for African Fashion and Arts).

10. Kate Mayeye

Kate Mayeye is a Kenyan designer inspired by West African culture. She is the CEO of African Fabrics and Designs Kenya Ltd. Kate Mayeye introduced a different fashion culture in Kenya and beyond, placing the African print on the world map. Recently, Kate styled Angela Okorie, an award-winning Nigerian actress, for three high-profile red carpet events.

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