High fashion with Kenyan Origins

Fashion designer Zedekiya Lukoye Zeddie Loky Narok NYC
Fashion designer Zedekiya Lukoye, popularly known as Zeddie Loky of men's wear brand Narok NYC. PHOTOS | COURTESY 

Starched, white and crisp. That’s what comes to mind when you see a Narok NYC shirt. You almost want to run your fingers along the fine stitching.

It would seem Narok NYC tailored shirts are the most exciting thing in men's Fashion this side of the Sahara since we tried to come up with a national dress, only this is way cooler.

From the classic designs of white collared dress shirts cuffed with round cut buttons, to a more daring Portofino style cuff, penguin collar and even ruffle front, or tuxedo if you prefer, depending on the occasion, Zeddie Loky, the travelling tailor with a client list from Nairobi to New York, sits on a lounge chair at a rooftop restaurant situated in a leafy Nairobi neighbourhood dressed in one of his creations.

A red checkered gingham type of shirt with white sleeves, elegant in its simple mandarin collar, with olive slacks hanging loosely off the waist and a blazer with the most colorful lining, soft to the touch.

This man born in Eldoret, who played rugby in Mombasa and learned the transferrable skill of sewing from friends, really did dream of joining the Kenya Defence Forces before a conman scammed him and his mother, altering the course of his destiny forever.

The white-eyed Zeddie who dresses politicos, young C-suite executives; among the names mentioned during the interview include Tyson Beckford, Chris McCullough, Sasha Mutai, Paul Ndichu, drew inspiration from watching a film on how to make it in America right before he went for the New York fashion week in 2011. Of this he says, “When you come to the realisation of who you are, you develop a vision, it comes to you clearly and you’re able to now your path.” And his path, became fashion.

From tailoring jeans in Nakuru and Kenyatta Market, to making and selling made to measure, personalized shirts and suits, Zeddie Loky targets the affluent African.

The two hundred dollar shirts are made with cotton from some of the best millers in Italy and Turkey. He also sources his fabric from Thomas Mason. Average thread count is twenty per inch, packaged according to the three seasons we experience here: hot, wet and cold.

Each fabric has a QR code that corresponds with the app the design house uses to check inventory. Once read by his phone’s app, he is able to tell how many fabrics and sizes are left.

Narok NYC shirts come personalized for the different personalities and styles, hence the need for appointment booking whenever he’s in town. His $1,500 (Sh150,000) suits come in the owner’s choice lining, the label buttons are hand-made, and the process takes seven tailoring days, with an additional seven to 10 days for shipping.

Splashed with the occasional bursts of color, solids or African styled fabrics, in unexpected places, such as the inner collar and cuffs for that playful, signature edge, Zeddie admits in a rather matter-of-fact tone, “When you wear a Narok shirt, you’ll never take it off. It’s like second skin.”

With just the right fit to hold the lean, the fit athletic type or burly torso, while managing to look fashionable is what Zeddie Loky aims for. His style is both for the Instagram inclined and boardroom ready.

The New York based men's style aficionado uses the word "bespoke" intermittently during the interview with BD Life at a rooftop deck on a cool noon under a shade sipping a cappuccino, Zeddie says, “Everything is made overseas, and if it doesn’t fit right, we can do up to two alterations.”

He adds, “We are meticulous with our stitching, fitting and style. We try to be unique. We meet, take the specifications and measurements, just like going to one of your best restaurants and getting everything is just as you like it.”

Narok NYC also does women’s shirts.