Over the years, the Kenyan fashion scene has been on an experimentation binge; trying out unusual silhouettes, fascinating accessories and lastly fashion videos.
Away from putting on a fashion show, the industry has decided to use the power of video to showcase its works. Although fashion events continue to be a popular form of marketing or showing off collections, videos have the advantage of a longer shelf life and room to tell a story.
In April Chico Leco produced an 84-minute film, a fluid movement of frames and close ups through the Chico Leco Presents — an initiative of The Nest.
The online fashion store (chicoleco.com) made eight short films showcasing creations of eight local fashion designers; Katungulu Mwendwa, Sunny Dolat, Kepha Maina, Nick Ondu, Blackbird, Wambui Mukenyi, Sheila Amolo and Ruth Abade.
The videos are still available for people to watch on Youtube.
“The idea came up as we were thinking about different ways to show collections that aren’t a fashion show, so we thought about various presentations and settled on conceptual videos,” says Sunny Dolat of Chico Leco and stylist.
Chico Leco, which started last year in February, evolved from Stingo, a popular fashion photo blog; Sunny was the stylist, Jim Chuchu as the photographer, Lucille Kahara as the producer, Kangai Mwiti as the make-up artist, Kepha Maina as a stylist.
Having worked with several designers over the years, Sunny knew that the one thing that most local designers struggle with is distribution and showcasing their work.
“You have ridiculously talented people all over the city but there isn’t one place you can go and find their products, one has to resort to setting up meetings over the phone and meeting outside 20th Century,” he says.
One of the participating fashion designers, Kepha who has been a good friend was always sharing ideas and executed them like fashion photo blog – Stingo.
When Sunny shared his idea of an online fashion week, he jumped to it as he could see the advantages of the project.
“We still have people who are watching the videos for the first time three months after they were uploaded and that wouldn’t be possible with a show. They offer far and wide accessibility; anyone can watch the video from any part of the world,” he says.
He feels that the videos help to break the barriers and show them what they can do. As a designer being able to share vividly the idea and the story behind the collection is paramount, it’s much easier with videos than a show; his story titled, Eden by Night.
The eight videos have been about to reach people that they would have not been able to invite or even get to attend the shows to look at their work for as emerging designers would not attract much audience in the first place.
“It gave the house great exposure; although I’ve been around for a while, this is my debut collection and the video was an excellent way to start. We are releasing the collection in September and I’m confident it will be a success. We already have people who placed pre-orders just after the videos went up,” says Kepha.
For Ruth Abade, taking part in the Chico Leco project was a great honour and thanks to the videos people were able to know what Blackfly, her fashion house, was all about.
A month after the Chico Leco videos, Annabel Onyango – one of the well-known fashion stylist, unveiled her short fashion film (note not video but film) You Are It – which can be found in Vimeo.com. It featured fashion designers Namnyak, Katungulu Mwendwa and Kapoeta (accessories designer).
Recently, James Otieno of Itikadi shot his fall collection, Cosmopolitan Inspired, and posted on Youtube.