Buy Kenya Build Kenya: Kenyans Behind Locally Made Clothing Brands

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Buy Kenya Build Kenya: Kenyans Behind Locally Made Clothing Brands
Photo/TV47

By Prudence Minayo

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga calls to do away with second hand products (popularly known as mitumba) was met by tough resistance by a section of Kenyans. The ODM leader made the remarks during his manifesto launch at Nyayo stadium as he promised to revive the textile industry that would in effect create millions of jobs. Even with the mtumba industry thriving, a number of textile companies continue to do business but not at their optimum level. 

Below are some of the textile industries in Kenya. WoK has also gone the extra mile to bring you a list of fashion designers in Kenya. 

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Rivatex East Africa 

The textile industry in Eldoret is doing a good job with the popular shirts worn by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The President, who at one time was branded Uhuru Masharti, has urged Kenyans to promote the local textile industry and he is leading by example. According to a news item on NTV, four women are charged with designing the President’s shirts. One of the tailor is known as Caroline Nyakio. 

Spin-Knit Limited

This is among the leading textile companies in Kenya. According to the company’s website, the manufacturing facilities of 100% acrylic hand knitting yarn, knitwear, baby shawls, blankets and maasai shuka. The brand name of their products is robin. The company has over 750 employees. 

Also Read: Mwangi wa Mercedes: From Selling Mitumba To Owning Successful Car Dealership

Thika Cloth Mills Limited

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The company has the capacity to produce one million meters of fabric per month. The award winning company makes polyester cotton suiting, fiber dyed polyester viscose suitings, yarn dyed checks, cotton drill, curtains, khanga, kikoi and kitenge. 

KEMA East Africa Limited

The company was incorporated in 1990 and has made a name for itself over the years as market leader in the personal and protective equipment industry. According to the company’s website, they provide tailor made uniforms and apparels. 

These are just some of the textile companies in Kenya. Below WoK lists some of the top designers in Kenya. 

Jok a Jok

Jok a Jok is a leather bags brand by popular music producer Ted Josiah. The quality of the leather is top notch with materials and labour sourced within the country. 

“I spent three years in research before launching Jok A Jok,” he said. 

The brand is in honor of his late wife who was a fashion enthusiast. 

Also Read: Zedekiah Lokole: From Selling Mitumba In Nairobi To Dressing Celebrities In New York

Kiko Romeo 

Kiko Romeo was established by Anne Mcreath who had come to Kenya as an NGO worker. She left her secure job to launch the brand. At first, her clients were mostly expatriates and NGO workers. The business was greatly affected by the 1998 bombing in Nairobi.

When British Airways pulled out of Kenya for three months in 2003 due to terror attacks, the business suffered a major setback.  She took a break and relaunched later. This time Kenyans were beginning to appreciate the brand. She faced another hurdle when sales went down following the 2007/2008 clashes. Nonetheless, her brand has been able to withstand the test of time. 

El Afrique

El Afrique was founded by Whitney Nasanga and has served some of the biggest names in the fashion industry like Shaq The Yungin, rapper Wangechi and Le Brand. They gained international recognition after being featured by Beyonce.

The brand prides itself in its versatility and the ability to stay up to date.

“We keep up with the trends; what’s popping, what’s nice, the best materials to use. We are also all-rounded, that is, we don’t only stick to African prints. We use a range of materials, from satin, silk to cotton,” said the owner. 

It was among the pioneer brands in the country to create an African print only clothing line. 

Suave Kenya 

Suave is a globally recognized brand which deals in upcycled bags. They turn ordinary bags into beautiful unique creations by making use of ankara. The founder, Mohamed Awala, quit his corporate job to open the business. Apart from Kenya, they sell their products globally in countries like Germany and the United Kingdom. 

Anyango Mpinga

Anyango Mpinga’s brand produces re-imagined white shirts, bold prints, jewelry and leather bags. Her designs were won by 3D avatar models and she was among the people featured on Beyonce’s website.

Home 254

Home 254 was founded by John Brian Jura who developed a strong interest in fashion while he was a computer and electronics engineering student in fourth year. Their designs are comfortable and unapologetically Kenyan. They are known for their comfortable and stylish hoodies, t-shirts, and sweat suits. 

Also Read: Juma ‘Jay’ Khamis Mohammed: From Hawking Mitumba To Becoming One Of The Richest Men In Kenya

Esko 

This is a fashion brand by the famous DJ Creme de la Creme. They are synonymous with unique t-shirts and hoodies. The inspiration for the brand is the famous Colombian drug lord, the late Pablo Escobar. The DJ said he is not inspired by his narcotics trafficking but the good he did in the world. 

“We hardly talk about the hospitals, stadiums and even houses of the less fortunate he built and how he sponsored local soccer teams. I admire the great man for that, all the good things he was and that is why I named the line after him,” Crème told Standard.

Peperuka 

Kenyans are famous for their colorful phrases. Peperuka takes advantage of this to create a brand that infuses such phrases into their apparel. Their brand is a hit among the young and try to use products that are friendly with the ecosystem. Peperuka has a line in honor of the first African woman to win the Nobel peace Prize, the late professor Wangari Maathai. Their apparel has been won by some of the most famous people around the world including Lupita Nyong’o, Patricia Kihoro, Blinky Bill, Yemmy Alade, Jimmi Gathu, Zain Vergee, Kobi Kihara, and Diamond Platinumz. 

Denri 

Denri is one of the leading designer bags manufacturers with outlets in different parts of the country. It was founded by Denis Mwaura and officially began operations in 2015. Denis is a Strathmore University Commerce graduate who found a way to make money through bags. They have a variety of bags from gym bags, backpacks to handbags. While they don’t compromise on quality, their bags are budget friendly. 

Adele Dejak

The brand focuses on manufacturing handcrafted African inspired jewelry and bags. She launched the brand in 2008, three years after relocating to Nairobi from England. With her bold pieces, she hopes to establish a powerhouse in Africa.

Other notable fashion brands include:

  • Ami Doshi Shah 
  • Endo squared 
  • Akinyi Odongo 
  • Sandstorm Kenya 
  • Looks Like Avido 
  • The Pink Savannah 
  • Chillimango 
  • Katungulu Mwendwa
  • TengeVuli
  • Kangarui
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