Fashion shop is seeking platform for local designers

Kapoeta Fashion Designers feather piece. Photo/Correspondent
Kapoeta Fashion Designers feather piece. Photo/Correspondent 

The Tribe Pop-Up Shop is not the typical fashion or concept shop. Located in one of the meeting rooms at the Tribe Hotel, this fashion pop-up shop gives the selected local designers a space to showcase and sell without the hurdles of investing in an outlet or incurring marketing costs. 

No stranger to being associated with the creative industries in Kenya, notably fashion, Tribe Hotel has long been on the forefront in organising events that offer platforms for exposure. The most well-known is its annual fashion event – Tribal Chic.

Started in 2009, the event gives local fashion designers (clothing and accessories) a chance to showcase their work to a different set of audience.

“The pop-up concept has started to revolutionise several industries in big cities across the world - you see temporary restaurants and retail concepts that highlight innovation and great talent over a short period.  I thought it would be a great showcase for the emerging fashion industry in Kenya,” says Shamim Ehsani of the Tribe Hotel.

Ultimate goal


He explains that the hotel is committed to playing a role in developing the Kenyan creative industries. Its ultimate goal is give the creatives a global platform in the hope of building Kenya’s image as a creative hub.

This year’s Tribal Chic embarked on an association with GenArt, a US-based talent management company. 

The partnership gave Katungulu Mwendwa (an upcoming fashion designer) an opportunity to showcase her work at the Fresh Faces in Fashion event at the New York Fashion Week, in September.

“Our city is going through a creative renaissance. It’s exciting!  Tribe wants to be a driving force in this movement, pushing boundaries and using our brand to leverage the creative community,” he says, “the Pop-up Shop at Tribe is a six-month commitment to Kenyan fashion. We want everyone to have an opportunity to be a part of this great new energy.”

The hotel looked for designers from across the city that did not have exposure in and around the hotel’s neighbourhood or to its clientele.

The biggest challenge, the hotel faced was to find a space to commit for six months as a shop, but willing designers were able to go ahead with the concept.

The designer’s collection appeal to an increasingly discerning local market but they might not have the resources to operate a full-time retail outlet.

Due to high rents and goodwill, most fashion designers do not have their own outlet. A large number relies on their online stores or social media pages to make sales. While others depending on concept shops that take on consignment and set the mark-up prices too high.

“A slightly deeper hope is that this will spawn similar Pop-up concepts across the city and a variety of industries.  When it is done well, it is a dynamic use of space; challenging traditional retail concepts and allowing for a more democratic approach to exposing talent,” says Mr Ehsani.  

The first group of Pop-up Shop designers are John Kaveke (menswear); Gladys Macharia of Jewels of Loyangalani (fine jewellery); Ambica Shah of Kapoeta (feather-based accessories); Ruth Abade of Black Fly (kitenge clothing); and Rohini Das of Unbound Ether (silk women’s wear).

Set of designers

Initially the idea was to have one designer for each month, but few designers have full collections. “There are particular designers who have chosen to collaborate with others to make the offering more complete and to share their resources to make their setup successful.”

The shop will be open every day from November 14 through May 3 and each month a different set of designers, clothing and accessories, will have the space.

The designers will be paying a fee to occupy the space while the hotel offers their mailing lists and networks to spread the word of the shop.

“We largely depend on word-of-mouth from our community of fans.  The shop is also ideally placed beside our extremely popular Kaya Spa which has over 200 appointments a week and Jiko Restaurant which seats over 150 people a day. So, the designers really have a captive audience to work with,” says Mr Ehsani.

Apart from the pop-up shop, other fashion designers have used the hotel to conduct business. In October, Penny Winter launched her latest collection at hotel lobby. She is also a frequent participant of the Tribal Chic event.

Last month, Little Red (an exclusive clothing store) hosted international menswear designer Zegna in an exclusive made-to-measure event in Tribe’s presidential suite.