Four Kenyans who went from Mitumba traders to famous fashion designers

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The rapidly changing world of fashion has long been a lucrative industry, with trends emerging all year round, and consumers breaking the bank just to get their hands on the hottest pieces of the season.

It is therefore important to note that the designers behind the pieces often go to great lengths to bring the creations to life, from the form, the fabric to the intricate tailoring that brings out the uniqueness of the outfit.

Four Kenyans, in particular, were fashionably introduced to the thrift store, also known as Mitumba, where they found their niche, leading them to become fashion powerhouses locally and internationally.

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The standard

Filbert Mkwiche

The Daystar University alumni’s interest in fashion design was predictable, as the skilled pilot and international relations officer abandoned her career before she even took off, when her parents noticed their gift. son.

His exquisite taste for fashion made his classmates ask him how he managed to achieve the looks he sported in lecture theaters. He then identified a gap in the market and started looking for parts in thrift markets.

“When people started to notice my sense of style, I started buying second-hand clothes and selling them at school,” he said in an interview with a local TV station.

The sudden surge in sales led him to start sourcing tailors, fabrics and got acquainted with designers who gave him insight into how to start the business.

The rise to celebrity status was not without its challenges, as the lack of capital to settle down prevented him from achieving his goals.

“I didn’t have a store to refer my customers to, sometimes I took measurements in the washrooms,” he says.

His journey has led him to design for celebrities such as actress Jacqueline Nyaminde, radio personality Kamene Goro and musician Judith Nyambura (Avril) in the country. It also hosts monthly events where it brings together local designers and clients to showcase their work.

Some of Mkwiche's creations on actress Jacqueline Nyaminde (left), radio personality Kamene Goro (middle) and musician Judith 'Avril' Nyambura (right)

Some of Mkwiche’s creations on actress Jacqueline Nyaminde (left), radio personality Kamene Goro (middle) and musician Judith ‘Avril’ Nyambura (right)

Instagram

Fintan designs

Nancie mwai
Nancie Mwai is an entrepreneur and fashion designer who started selling second-hand clothes with her friend online during her days on campus after people around her noticed her unique sense of style.

The alumni of the United States International University (USIU) started a fashion blog that peaked online and decided to go fully into fashion by selling mitumba clothing.

“We went to Gikomba early one morning, with only 2,000 Kshs, and we got pieces which sold on the first day, that day we had 14,000 Kshs,” she said in a statement. interview at a fashion event.

This led her to venture onto YouTube, which gave her a platform to be a fashion influencer, through which she shared content on how to style different types of outfits for different occasions.

It was then that her followers started asking how they would get the pieces she wore in her videos. This posed a challenge for her as she felt the need to create more of what she was wearing.

According to Mwai, this gave birth to her fashion store, New Level, which she maintained by producing quality pieces worn by celebrities in Kenya.

Nancie Mwai models some of her New Level brand pieces alongside social media influencers Patricia Kihoro and Sharon Mundia in New Level clothing (right)

Nancie Mwai models some of her New Level brand pieces alongside social media influencers Patricia Kihoro and Sharon Mundia in New Level clothing (right)

Instagram

Nancie mwai

Zeddy Loky
Zedekiah Lokole aka Zeddy Loky is a big name in New York. He owns a luxury brand, known for his designs worn by celebrities such as Jay-Z, NBA star Carmelo Anthony and actress Lupita Nyong’o.

The Kenyan-born and raised designer had his first encounter with fashion in Eldoretto, where he developed a sympathy for his mother’s friends who sold second-hand clothes in his home area and started selling to her. friends when he was in sixth grade.

He then moved to Nairobi where he learned to tailor, and his unique designs landed him an internship in New York City with fashion mogul Alexander Nash.

Nash offered him a position at his company, which he used to gain experience in the international fashion scene, leading him to attend New York Fashion Week for several years.

After this exposure, he hit the ground running, venturing out on his own. He created his own fashion house in 2013, which he named Narok NYC, paying homage to his country in his brand.

An archive image of Loky's Narok NYC brand pieces worn by New York model Jeremy Meeks (left) and Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong'o (right)

An archive image of Loky’s Narok NYC brand pieces worn by New York model Jeremy Meeks (left) and Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o (right)

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Sunny dolat
Sunny Dolat is a fashion giant who started his journey in the Gikomba market. He rummaged through piles of second-hand clothes looking for unique pieces to wear for fashion projects.

His love for fashion evolved after working on a project as a fashion stylist where he dressed models in his own pieces, to which he received an overwhelming response to his mastery of the art.

After joining forces with his friend Jim Chuchu, they started Collective Nest and has organized a number of fashion shows in Kenya, showcasing their beautiful pieces over the years. This propelled him to the status of a guru in the industry.

The talented designer spoke at Design Indaba 2020 in Capetown, which is the continent’s largest design conference, giving him international recognition.

Sunny has curated wardrobes for movies and TV series as well as various design exhibitions and museum exhibits around the world.

A file image of Dolat's pieces strung by models

A file image of Dolat’s pieces strung by models

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