The Kenyan Fashion Council: Collective Effort towards a Better Kenyan Fashion Industry
The fashion industry is gaining more recognition in most African countries and now, more than ever, a proper representation of this industry is a necessity. With collective effort in place, it becomes easier for stakeholders to advocate for policies that promote the growth of the fashion industry. The Kenyan Fashion Council (KFCO) is determined to promote this booming sector by bringing together various fashion players, so that the industry can speak with one voice. In this week’s article, we will share the work KFCO does in order to further the interests of stakeholders across the Kenyan fashion industry.
The establishment of the KFCO was a result of the collaborative consolidation of multiple stakeholders. The institution was officially launched in February 2022 to obtain fair policy and standards, promote industry players, and build local and international partnerships. KFCO’s work covers dissemination of information, promotion of entrepreneurs, and influencing policies.
As a representative of the interests of designers, jewellers, fashion photographers, models and fashion bloggers, KFCO recognises the importance of quality information and its role in equipping stakeholders with market intelligence and relevant information on trends and forecasts in the fashion industry. This is why it plans to offer services such as market research and analysis of the local and global industry to avail up-to-date and consistent reports. The reports will be augmented by digital archives, platforms, and databases which KFCO will use to collect and analyse information about the Kenyan fashion industry. In the spirit of providing relevant and up-to-date information for the Kenyan fashion industry, the organisation is also working on creating a Kenyan fashion calendar with fashion weeks and events highlighted. The goal is to encourage industry players and buyers to come together to build knowledge, network, and gain international recognition. One of the areas in which the KFCO will be directed at is the setting up of education foundation initiatives. It will not only facilitate accessible, sustainable, and up-to-date information, but it will also help in encouraging young people to participate in Kenya’s fashion education system and compete on a global market.
Branding Kenyan fashion nationally and internationally is one of the key purposes of KFCO. The institution will be working on several initiatives to promote fashion entrepreneurs in Kenya. Part of the KFCO’s plan is to establish a designers’ showroom for exhibiting designs by local designers, in the hope of raising awareness of their work and building relationships with consumers. Furthermore, KFCO plans to set up a fashion design and textile hub which will allow designers to use cutting-edge equipment, machinery, tools, and to access information on current technological inventions regarding apparel, footwear, jewellery, textile, etc. Being aware of the capacity constraints faced by fashion businesses, KFCO intends to allow entrepreneurs to use its facilities as an opportunity to work with lower minimum production rates.
In its quest to provide better value to Kenyan fashion players, KFCO is keen on providing holistic support to the fashion industry by influencing policy and facilitating the creation of a conducive environment for fashion entrepreneurs to thrive. The work of KFCO will include working on the development of a fashion law that will serve to advice and guide fashion industry players and designers, on legal matters. Through collaboration with microfinance institutions, it aspires to provide financial support systems and schemes for small, medium, and emerging entities.
Why and how can Kenyan fashion entrepreneurs join the KFCO?
KFCO leverages collective action and collaboration, ensuring that the Kenyan fashion industry speaks with one voice, and it builds a vibrant fashion industry in Kenya. To be part of KFCO’s work, you can sign up and register on its website. Should you need further clarification, the organisation’s telephone lines are also open for consultation.
Can you tell us about some of KFCO’s upcoming events?
KFCO’s upcoming events will be:
1. Fashion students forum
2. Showcase of the industry’s achievements
3. Kenyan Fashion Calendar’s launch
How has the African Development Bank supported you for the launch of this initiative?
“The African Development Bank played an important role in challenging us in 2016 to come together as an industry and speak with one voice”, said Akinyi Odongo, the Executive Board Chair.
As Akinyi and other fashion players found themselves in a room with no leadership to engage the Bank, it was a wake-up call for them to organise themselves. Since then, the formation of the KFCO has been a collective effort of many designers in Kenya, who are sacrificing their time and resources to see the organisation’s vision come to fruition. The KFCO is grateful to the African Development Bank, and it hopes to engage the Bank further for supporting some of its objectives, if not all.
Why is a fashion council needed in Kenya and how can other African governments take an example from Kenya?
Akinyi highlighted that it has taken the KFCO several years to engage the Kenyan government. She emphasised how the government’s respective bodies have been instrumental in ensuring that the KFCO is set up, amidst various challenges. The passionate director recommends that designers should come together and seek an audience with their governments, shedding more light on their work and the support they need.
“When the government understands your needs, it becomes very easy to support and be invited to the table to have conversations on how to make things better. Because governments work very differently, it cannot engage an individual but a collective body”, noted Akinyi.
To know more about the work of KFCO, visit their website.