19 days down! It just seemed like the other day was the 1st day of January and we are already halfway into the first month of the year. I have been away from the ‘blogosphere’ since Christmas because I felt a strong need to re-evaluate the reason why I am part of the Kenyan fashion industry and how I can be a positive contributor. The last two years of fashion blogging and content creating in Kenya, has been amazing for me, being recognised as one of Kenya’s leading male fashion bloggers to being invited to many forums and events as a legitimate content creator and social media influencer, who would not enjoy this?
I would like to begin by sharing that the Kenyan fashion industry is just as any other; it has a lot of components, key players and elements that are all synchronized. However, we are as unique as any other industry. We have our own strengths and band of challenges. I will briefly highlight the strengths, which are; as a nation, we have the freedom of speech and expression as a creative as stated in the Kenyan Constitution Chapter Four, Article 33, Section 1b. Our population statistics states that the youth are paramount to the survival of the Kenyan economy and this directly relates to the fashion industry. Lastly , Kenya is an amazing creative space, for designers, fashion entrepreneurs, models and all other categories of fashion professions.
Having said that , I will highlight 3 challenges in form of solutions that should make the Kenyan Fashion Industry better.
1.There is a need to have more information and resources eg. Not African Enough by the Nest Collective.
Documentation and resources are important because they act as a guide of sorts: being a creative should not have a step by step guide, however there is a need to have such information out there because of the many queries and requests on how to go about things. For instance, how to start blogging, where does one actually start? Among others.
Having this information would make it easier for people to be able to figure out what they want to do and how to get involved in the industry without necessarily getting lost in the moment.
2.Having a proper system when it comes to freelancing within the Fashion Industry
Freelancing in Nairobi on its own is a hassle. Then we have freelancing in fashion, which should have a department on its own. From what to charge, how to charge and things like getting 50% deposit, there is no black and white when it comes to this. Most people (myself included) stumbleupon freelancing and understanding what to do when given the position. There is a need to have a body or system that safeguards Kenyan freelancers whether they are writers, photographers and stylists. As long as you are not on the monthly payroll , you qualify as a freelancer. Many companies, brands and individuals take advantage of creatives and this needs to change. I will have a follow up comprehensive post on this topic.
3.Creation of a sense of community within the Kenyan fashion industry.
For us to be able to achieve what we want to as an industry, the first step would be solidarity. Just as the word is used in demonstrations, we need to practice solidarity within ourselves in the fashion industry. As stylists, fashion bloggers and overall creatives, once we share information (back to point 1) and help each other out , we can be able to fully come together and make a name for ourselves as a creative nation.
These are not all the challenges that we face as a creative nation, these are some of them. I would not want to take away some of the things we are strong at like; diversity and strong will, however I do believe we have a long way to go and once we recognise some of these we will be able to take the Kenyan fashion industry further.
This is the first post of this nature. I will highlight a couple more issues, and try to find solutions from different people on how we can change the situation. If you have any suggestions or thoughts be sure to let me know. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment in the comment section.
PHOTOGRAPHY | BILLY MIARON
LOCATION | PICAZZO RESTAURANT , THE HUB, KAREN