African Fashion - Kenya's Kiko Romeo Goes To London
Kenya's Kiko Romeo goes to London. After completing fashion design studies in Rome, followed by years working as a designer in Barcelona, Scottish born Ann McCreath took a three-month break doing aid work in Kenya. Finding it fascinating, she stayed on for 3 years, before deciding to go back to her profession and do trade instead of aid.
So in 1996 With a desire to help create jobs in rural areas and make unique, high quality products for retail Ann launched her own fashion house under the name “KikoRomeo”, which means “Adam’s apple” in Kiswahili.. Hoping Kenyans would take pride in African-inspired contemporary fashion, and promote their economy through buying locally made fashion, she set about making ethically sound products with inputs from community artisans and women’s groups, which she retailed through her own shop.
Kiko Romeo is now the ultimate fashion house in Kenya and the brand is rapidly putting East African fashion industry on the map. In fact, as of this month, the Italian fashion lovers will be able to buy Kenyan designs in Milan.
Ann recently said of the new venture. "This is a major break not only for me but for the whole industry," Ann said, "The department store owners got to know about us when Vogue Italia came to Kenya and featured Kiko Romeo designs in a two page spread. The process of shipping off the merchandise involves bar coding the pieces, packaging them and "being consistent" in the whole process." In the past Romeo has worked on ethical fashion projects, employing the motto, "trade not aid", throughout her career.
She says instilling "not only employment but also pride" into local cultures allows her to have a successful team around her.Taking inspiration from Africa constantly, Romeo purchases the majority of her textiles in Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Moreover, she brings the majority of her cotton from West Africa.
Since then KikoRomeo has continued to offer ready-made garments, cut to international fashion trends, using African made fabrics,often with handcrafted details.
It is her dream to open "an all African brand that can be franchised around the world". If your in Nairobi, you can find KikoRomeo in Yaya Centre. For those on the net, check out Kiko Romeo Collections
All Images courtesy of Kiko Romeo