Fashion designer weaves Western style on kanga wear
Posted Monday, April 23 2012 at 18:53
Diana Migwi’s plan, when she returned to Kenya from Australia in 2009, was to be an intern in a well-known fashion house.
But when her search turned into months, she decided to start her own fashion business.
With a degree in fashion from a university in Melbourne, Sh20,000 as capital, she bought sample fabrics, pattern-making paper and started with making clothes from her house for her sister, friends and other relatives.
Working for a designer in Melbourne had exposed her to international fashion. But to succeed in Kenya, she realised, she had to modify her style and designs to ensure they appealed to local tastes.
“I was used to selling to Europeans and that is what I’m good at because my designs are streetwear that you can wear to work, going out and shopping,” she says.
To appeal to Kenyan clients, she found a way of incorporating an item that they could identify with—kanga, kitenge or ankara.
A Diana Migwi outfit is “a fusion of Western styles using African inspiration,” she says.
Case-in-point is her fast-selling jump suit made with 80 per cent chiffon, cotton or linen and the other percentage is African fabric; kangas, kitenges or ankara.
The fashion trend at the moment is African outfits cut in European styles; a kanga sun-dresses or men’s blazers in Ankara.
“I’m doing more of them because it’s what is in trend right now. Go to Nairobi’s Biashara Street nearly all the shops are stocking lesos and African fabrics,” she says.
However, her designs for now limit her from tapping the market that prefers use of other fabrics.
This happens especially when she is making clothes for the likes of the Kung’ar’a Kenya Shop, at the Karen Plains Arcade, along Karen Plains Road in Karen.
She says this is really sad but with Kenyans “when one thing happens everything happens.”
“I think we need a stand when it comes to fashion, but we are getting there,” says the designer.
However, this has not deterred her from building a client base.
Her designs are inspired by costumes from the Classical Greek era; something that makes a woman look outstanding in whatever she is wearing, she says. “My client base is really wide and the only thing I can say they have in common is style.
As so long as you are a fashionable woman who wants to feel like you are on a catwalk and look graceful,” she says. Ms Migwi says she is a firm believer that “any body type is one you make look good with what you design.”
Her clients are from all ages; they are women who are confident and want to keep up with the current fashion trend whether they are mothers or teens.