Fashion

Architects sketch bright future in tailoring

BrianMatthews

Brian Ongwenyi, one of the co-founders of Taisere designs during the interview in Nairobi on Monday, November 8, 2021. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Summary

  • For the fashion-conscious, made-to-measure is becoming the ultimate indulgence.
  • But the pain of chasing a tailor for months and ending up with a suit that is not perfect-fitting and finely stitched has made many Kenyans opt for ready-to-wear clothing.
  • And this is where Ian Omondi and his business partner Brian Ongwenyi have found a niche.

For the fashion-conscious, made-to-measure is becoming the ultimate indulgence. But the pain of chasing a tailor for months and ending up with a suit that is not perfect-fitting and finely stitched has made many Kenyans opt for ready-to-wear clothing.

And this is where Ian Omondi and his business partner Brian Ongwenyi have found a niche.

The two founded Taisere Designs, which tailors suits but with a different strategy. To save customers the time of having to go to their shop, be measured, choose fabrics and wait for weeks for stitching and fitting, the two do house or office calls.

They have made their services more accessible by being available at any location to take the measurements, give fabric options on-site, and also deliver the suits when ready.

“You do not have to come to our workshop. You only have to state your location and we will be at our doorstep with fabric samples and our tape measure to get your right size. We also show them designs samples. This gives clients a better fitting and more unique style, it has made our products more size-inclusive,” said Ian, who is 27 years old.

The two started making suits while pursuing a degree in architecture at the University of Nairobi which they completed in 2018.

“We realised we had a passion for it while still in school and decided to try it. We would first create the designs and take them to our tailor. Our friends liked how we looked and started requesting for suits at a fee,” said Brian, who is 28 years old.

They later got popular at the university as the demand rose with various students approaching them for suits. They saved the profit and bought a sewing machine worth Sh45,000.

“It was costly then, but since we were two people passionate about anything to do with design, we took the risk,” he said.

Three years later, their biggest clientele is in the corporate world, celebrities attending gala events and wedding participants such as groomsmen.

Their suits now target customers who can part with Sh30,000 to Sh40,000 for a suit.

For the lower-priced suits, they charge Sh8,000 to Sh15,000.

“What has made our clothes popular is the smooth finishing and could easily be mistaken for suits made by master tailors,” Brian tells BDLife, adding that they take about seven to 10 days to complete the suit.

He also said their popularity was brought about by the unique fabric they use in each suit. They use 100 percent wool. Their most popular one is Jacquard, which has good prints ‘making it popular and fit for ceremonial events.

Due to variation in temperatures in where the clients live, Brian says they also use linen fabric for those living in hot regions and would prefer light fabric. The cheaper fabrics are the wool blended with polyester which also makes good products once designed.

They have so far employed three tailors to help with the load of work, in addition to the two who do the design work at their Nairobi workshop.

“We would like to bridge the gap between affordable and expensive suits. Someone can get a suit similar to one valued at Sh200,000 in designer shops for half or even quarter the price,” he said.

For the duo to cut a niche in the re-emerging industry, they also apply a few of what was taught in their architecture classes.

“There are basic principles of design, primary concepts of bold colours in coming up with unique clothing,” said Brian, adding that there is a need for young people to take risks.

“Just pursue what you love, you never know. It feels good to earn from something you made with your own hands,” he said.

The two say that even though they are currently working in the fashion industry, they could also easily work as freelance architects if they get clients.

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ing available at any location to take the measurements, give fabric options on-site, and also deliver the suits when ready.

“You do not have to come to our workshop. You only have to state your location and we will be at our doorstep with fabric samples and our tape measure to get your right size. We also show them designs samples. This gives clients a better fitting and more unique style, it has made our products more size-inclusive,” said Ian, who is 27 years old.

The two started making suits while pursuing a degree in architecture at the University of Nairobi which they completed in 2018.

“We realised we had a passion for it while still in school and decided to try it out. We would first create the designs and take them to our tailor. Our friends liked how we looked and started requesting for suits at a fee,” said Brian, who is 28 years old.

They later got popular at the university as the demand rose with various students approaching them for suits. They saved the profit and bought a sewing machine worth Sh45,000.

“It was costly then, but since we were two people passionate about anything to do with design, we took the risk,” he said.

Three years later, their biggest clientele is in the corporate world, celebrities attending gala events and wedding participants such as groomsmen.

Their suits now target customers who can part with Sh30,000 to Sh40,000 for a suit.

For the lower-priced suits, they charge Sh8,000 to Sh15,000.

“What has made our clothes popular is the smooth finishing and could easily be mistaken for suits made by master tailors,” Brian tells BDLife, adding that they take about seven to 10 days to complete the suit.

He also said their popularity was brought about by the unique fabric they use in each suit. They use 100 percent wool. Their most popular one is Jacquard, which has good prints ‘making it popular and fit for ceremonial events.

Due to variation in temperatures in where the clients live, Brian says they also use linen fabric for those living in hot regions and would prefer light fabric. The cheaper fabrics are the wool blended with polyester which also makes good products once designed.

They have so far employed three tailors to help with the load of work, in addition to the two who do the design work at their Nairobi workshop.

“We would like to bridge the gap between affordable and expensive suits. Someone can get a suit similar to one valued at Sh200,000 in designer shops for half or even quarter the price,” he said.

For the duo to cut a niche in the re-emerging industry, they also apply a few of what was taught in their architecture classes.

“There are basic principles of design, primary concepts of bold colours in coming up with unique clothing,” said Brian, adding that there is a need for young people to take risks.

“Just pursue what you love, you never know. It feels good to earn from something you made with your own hands,” he said.

The two say that even though they are currently working in the fashion industry, they could also easily work as freelance architects if they get clients.

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