Fashion Around Africa Series: Kenya

Photos of Sun n' Sand Beach, Kikambala
This photo of Sun n’ Sand Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Imagine lying on the beach and enjoying the warm sun that is beating down on you. The beach towel that you are lying on is nice and comfortable and you have just finished a busy week. All week you have been going to fashion shows to find new designs for your store but now you have a chance to relax. Breathe in the smell of the ocean air and feel the breeze on the nice, white and sandy beach. Now come back to reality. White beaches, comfortable beach towels and fashion shows are all part of Kenya that many may not know about. Kenya’s beaches are a main attraction and some of the beach towels there are made from a material called kikoy. Besides their beaches and material kikoy, Kenya also has an active fashion industry with designers starting to become known in Europe.

 

If you are looking for a nice place to vacation Kenya is an option because they have beautiful beaches. Some of the beaches located on the southern coast include Diani Beach, Tiwi Beach, Wasini Island and Kisie-Mpunguti Marine Reserve. These beaches are mainly known for snorkeling, scuba diving and the coral reef. They are also known for having white sand with the beauty of the blue ocean in sight. There are also many beaches located on the northern coast of Kenya and are found at Shanzu, Vipingo, Nyali, Mtwapa, Kikambala and Takaungu. The most well-known beach in the north is located in Mombasa which is the perfect atmosphere for young people. There are spas, market places to shop, historic ruins of the old town and a beautiful seaside view. Besides enjoying the beaches in Kenya, there are safaris where one can see wildlife first hand. Many of the safari destinations are a relatively short distance from where many of the beaches are located such as Amboseli, Tsavo and Shimab Hills. Kenya has many beautiful beaches, so next time you want to vacation somewhere nice consider Kenya.

Kikoys from Kenya

Kikoys from Kenya

While considering whether to vacation in Kenya you can also consider purchasing a beach towel made out of kikoy. Kikoy is a hand-woven garment that comes in many different colors and patterns. It is a very soft material that gets softer and stronger with every single wash which makes it the perfect material for a beach towel and many other things. The kikoy was traditionally a garment for men but has evolved into many valuable items that everyone can enjoy. Some of the things made out of kikoy besides beach towels are fleeces, shorts/pants, scarves, bags, baseball hats, paper beads and even bikini’s. Kikoy is not only used for making clothes and different accessories but can be used around the house as a placemat, napkin, tablecloths, cushion covers and also blankets. Kikoy is a material that can be used to make almost anything and comes in many different colors and designs. Kikoy is a big part of Kenya’s fashion and many women there weave kikoy and sell it in order to make a living for themselves and their family.

 

Kikoy is not the only fashion in Kenya even though it is the biggest known one. Just like other countries have their traditional clothing so does Kenya. In Kenya the people are split by the different tribes that they belong to but the most famous tribe is the Masai Maria. Masai traditional clothing consists of men wearing a red-checked shuka (Masai Blanket) and carrying a distinctive ball ended club. Women wear plate like bead necklaces and colorful wraps called kanga. In the Masai tribe the color red stands for power so many of their clothing is red and even when boy become men at 14, they dye their hair red.

 

Kooroo Design Image Courtesy of Ciaafrique.com

Kooroo Design Image Courtesy of Ciaafrique.com

Kooroo Design Image Courtesy of Kooroo

Kooroo Design Image Courtesy of Kooroo

Traditional clothing is not the only type of fashion that takes place in Kenya. There are many up and coming designers that have begun their own businesses and are making names for themselves. Some of these businesses are Kooroo Designs and Kiko Romeo which have shown off their designs at fashion shows around the world. Kooroo Designs is a designer women’s label that was established in 2006 in Kenya by Herbert Lakew and Enid Lanez. The main purpose of their line is to make ready to wear clothing for women that blend sophisticated clothing with African influences. Their designs are meant to embody a combination of traditional heritage and global appeal. Kooroo integrates the use of African prints in a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors with silks, jersey, cotton and linens in solid colors and prints to create collections that have exceptional appeal to a global audience. These designs have been seen at different fashion shows such as Festival of African Fashion and Art, Swahili Fashion Week and Edinburgh Mela Festival in Scotland.

Just like Kooroo Design, Kiko Romeo is an up and coming fashion business that is located in Kenya. Kiko Romeo is run by Ann McCreath and Norbert Ochieng. Ann McCreath studied in Rome and came to Kenya to do some aid work for 3 months but decided to stay for 3 years because she had fallen in love with the country. Along with her love for the country was her concern for the people. She wanted to create jobs in rural areas and make unique, high quality products for retail which is how she established Kiko Romeo, which actually means “Adam’s apple” in Kiswahili. Her partner Norbert Ochieng is a Kenyan native who wanted to become a mathematician but instead went into fashion. He graduated with high honors and now his goal is to become the best tailor in Kenya. The designs of Kiko Romeo consist of clothing for not only women but also for men. They even have a collection called “Kenya Rugby Team.” Besides having integrated modern styles with African clothing and creating collections for not only women but for men, they also founded the Festival of African Fashion and Arts in 2008 as a way for designers to showcase their designs and it has now become an annual event. Fashion continues to grown in Kenya and also throughout African with the establishment of many new designers.

KikoRomeo Courtesy of Ciaafrique.com

KikoRomeo Courtesy of Ciaafrique.com

KikoRomeo Courtesy of 1smartfasean.wordpress.com

KikoRomeo Courtesy of 1smartfasean.wordpress.com

Sources:

http://www.mombasadrive.com/History_of_the_Kikoy.html
http://kikoykiosk.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=2
http://www.safari.go2africa.com/kenya/kenya-beaches.asp
http://www.kenyatourguide.com/kenya-adventure-safari-tours/kenya-beach-safari-tours.html
http://www.naturaltoursandsafaris.com/wasini_day_tours.php
http://www.mydestination.com/kenya/regionalinfo/6174724/top-ten-beaches
http://www.kenya-advisor.com/kenya-clothing.html
http://www.savannah-chic.com/de_r/sale.html/
http://www.kooroodesigns.com/?page_id=7
http://kikoromeo.com/

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About lnmcfarlane

Owner of Wafrique Crafts LLC, a retail company that sells unique, dressy and fun clothing and accessories made in different regions of Africa.
This entry was posted in African Development, African Fashion, Places We Go and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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