Awuor Onyango is thrilled to announce a new ethical fashion collaboration with Vida designs. The Nairobi based writer and visual artist recently worked on print designs inspired by the Nairobi Subculture for the ethical fashion line. The artist provided digital drawings for the collaboration which includes sleeveless tops, modern tees, cashmere scarfs and pocket squares in colourblocked pinks, reds, oranges, blues and purples.
Onyango describes her collaboration with Vida and motivation for the project…
“When VIDA approached me and showed interest in my work it came as a bit of a (scary) surprise. I put some thought into what it meant to do a collection and more than that, what it would mean to present Nairobi as I understood it and witnessed it and Kenya as well. There are certain shortcuts I feel people take, certain symbols that lazily capture a place, sometimes it’s the architecture like the eiffel tower for Paris and KICC for Nairobi.
There’s also this interesting idea that we’re all walking around with “African print” and that if you see someone in African Print then you know where they are from, because Africa is a country. But I really had to dig into what I particularly like about Nairobi, or how I imagine Nairobi would be in my mind.
The Subculturer is a girl with blue dreadlocks and for me a kind of ode to the creatives of Nairobi who venture far from corporate Nairobi but make the city more bearable for some of us. The Horn Blower is another essay on his own and inspired by the music festivals and drama festivals. It’s about the costumes and how we teach, interact and talk about the aesthetics that were pretty enough to survive colonisation.”
I tried to move as far away as possible from the African Print aesthetic or the tie and dye aesthetic, to create a new language for how Nairobi can be seen on fabric. Of Ancients is perhaps a peak into the next collection I would like to work on, bringing out the female heroes we silence in our history books and national memories.
“It’s an honour, not only to work on something that I love, but to work with an ethical company on that. I guess because of second hand clothes and a general laxity when it comes to ethics, we take for granted the dynamics of the textile industry. It’s good to know that the maker in Kathmandu who is printing my designs is getting their fair share and literacy classes too to further their career. It’s good to know there is no slave/forced or prison labour involved and that everyone involved mutually benefits from every step in production of these clothes. That’s hardly something I can say for my electronics or other clothes. It’s the transparency and fairness that’s important. The global platform is also helpful. It’ll be intresting to see what part of the world is most responsive to my designs, for example.”