As a practice of expression, a way to individualism, and of course a form of art; it’s obvious that music and fashion are closely linked. But just how much is the Kenyan music scene embracing fashion? The World music and revenue is moving towards merchandising and fashion plays a big role in this, artists are even doing fashion shows these days!
Remember how Camp Mulla influenced fashion in Kenya? All the kids wanted to be funky! Fast forward to 2016 not much has been done to merge music and fashion in Kenya, let alone create revenue. Sauti Sol, who are biggest act in Kenya right now managed to draw attention to their style creating a trend with their ‘sheets’ and ‘curtains’ which made it to a UK Museum exhibition. The band also has merchandise out in stores around the country.
1. So who got the juice both on stage and off stage. The name that comes first to my mind is Shappaman formely of Camp Mulla. Shappa has stayed true to his retro swank from the Mulla days to date, always rocking his trademark hair cut and repping the 90s vibe. He gave a peerless performance at Thrift Social (90s Night Market) where Nairobi’s cutting edge fashion enthusiasts come out to play.
2. Next up is Victoria Kimani, her style is versatile with a mix of urban wear and African print. Her choice of outfit for different occasions exhibit well thought out concepts and she’s always working with top stylists and designers from Kenya and Nigeria. Recently bumped into one her collaborations with Nigerian urban street wear brand Sanusi Lagos that blew my mind off.
3. On to Chimano! (Sauti Sol) You can’t deny his style is unique and defined from the rest of his Sol brothers. Whatever the theme is, he goes extra, always striving be edgy, in a band of superstars you always need to stand out. The Live And Die Afrika Tour saw Sauti Sol work with a professional stylist but you could easily say he still looked effortlessly stylish and infused his character in the way he dressed. He’s often dresses impeccably but that’s what I love about fashion, it allows you to create your style irrespective of what everyone else thinks. Like I mentioned earlier Sauti Sol’s Coke Studio outfit was featured on Fashion Cities Africa at Brighton University Museum and Art Gallery(UK).
4. Back to the ladies and I’ll shine a light on Stella Mwangi (STL), one of the best Kenyan femcees. Interestingly Stella is very passionate about fashion, she even has ‘Fashion Brand’ as one of her bio lines on Instagram. While femcees have always embraced a Tomboy style obviously influenced by the male dominated Hip Hop scene, STL’s style is a little edgy and heavily influenced by African print,pattern and colour. Her fashion brand Vaa Afrika aims at bringing the African wear aesthetic from the roots to the city which is heavily influenced by world trends.
4. Rising from the humble slums of Kibera, Octopizzo has not only risen to be one of the best rappers in Kenya but also one of the best dressed. He’s so into sneakers which apparently is a big thing now in World fashion. His love for footwear has always been evident ever since his hit song ‘On Top’ which addressed his love for footwear or what he calls ‘Ndula’ (sheng). He sent tongues wagging when he appeared on The Trend with glowing Nike Light Up sneakers saying it was a reflection of his status and first place in the Hip Hop industry.
I still feel the Kenyan music Industry has neglected such an instrumental element like fashion that brings in good money and shifts culture. The fashion industry is buzzing as well, maybe it’s time!