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Fashion

Deepa Dosaja’s New Organic Collection

Deepa Dosaja showing a dress in her fish collection
Deepa Dosaja showing a dress in her fish collection during the interview at her new boutique in Loresho on December 17, 2018. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

After being in the fashion industry for 27 years, globally-acclaimed Kenyan stylist Deepa Dosaja has gone organic. She is now making her clothes from pesticide-free textiles, some dyed with natural dyes that are not toxic to the skin.

“I am using material produced naturally free from pesticides and chemicals applied during manufacture of textiles,” she says.

She emphasises on low usage of machinery in favour of manual cloth making processes from drawing a sketch during a client brief to tailoring.

At her new Loresho Ridge Studio in Nairobi, the Canadian-trained designer says she has a team of 14 workers who hand-stitch and decorate her clothes as she targets consumers who prefer materials that are kind to the environment.

“Textiles and apparels machines are efficient and do make economic sense for the mass market but they deny buyers that personal touch that one gets from having clothes made by a person they know,” she says.

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Ms Dosaja who displayed her hand-woven and embroidered attires at the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange event at UK’s Buckingham Palace says Kenyans now appreciate buying bespoke apparels.

She sources her fabrics from different countries and a Ugandan artist uses organic paints to give them an intriguing finish.

“The hand painter and tie and dye specialist spends days working on every three and a half metres pieces of apparel to come up with exclusive tastes as requested by clients,” she says.

The clothes go for between Sh9,750 to Sh18,750 but are stitched upon request from a client.

“It is a client’s taste that inspires our designs. I sit down with a client and discuss the needed piece of clothing. We look at the occasion intended as well as the season thereby ensuring the final product is fit for purpose,” she says. Ms Dosaja says Kenyans would create more jobs if they bought Kenyan-made products, ensuring a round-the-year demand for locally made clothes and accessories.

Her newly-found sustainable practice looms large within her new outfit where she deliberately avoided use of oil-based paints in favour of water-based paints while her furniture is just that—wood.

“I no longer use synthetic materials and I prefer to source from Gap {Good Agricultural Practices} certified producers which ensures my customers enjoy wearing clean products. The skin is the biggest organ, yet we hardly give a thought on the pesticides and chemicals we expose it to. I recently imported clean silk material from Italy. “I am looking forward to 2020 when all my fabrics and end-products will be made from bio-degradable materials,” she says.

The fashion designer who got a diploma in fashion and design in Canada says she has started training interns to embrace hand woven, hand-decorated and embroidered technologies to ensure originality in their products. This has helped nurture local talent.

Known as ‘conscious-fashion’, Ms Dosaja says opening up of an Africa-wide Free Trade Area could bring in better fabrics that suit a customer’s needs for varied designs.

“Kenya has the skills and it is upon us to make products that stand out globally. Designers should label their products and Kenyans should be proud to don locally made attire whenever they go across the globe,” she added.

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