This September, Katungulu Mwendwa became the first Kenyan fashion designer to showcase in the GenArt’s “Fresh Faces” show at the New York Fashion Week. The US-based influential arts and entertainment organisation dedicated to scouting new talent had partnered with Tribal Chic 2012 (a premier fashion organised by Tribe Hotel that took place last May). They intended to pick one of the designers from the Kenyan event to show at their prestigious runway show.
Katungulu says, “It really was such a privilege and I am highly grateful to Gen Art for allowing me the opportunity. And thankful to all my wonderful and amazing family and friends for supporting and encouraging me through it all.” “The styling of her presentation was youthful and on-trend down to the the lace up biker boots. Her perspective was truly singular--modern and even a bit futuristic, but steeped in traditional elements. It’s the perfect expression for GenArt’s global launch. We truly believe there’s a consumer for her wares in the US,” wrote Martine Bury, Director of GenArt Global, in an email.
And at the showcase, the GenArt panel of judges used words such as “cosmopolitan”, “edgy with tribal flare”, “New York cool”, “wearable” and “urbane” to describe Katungulu’s post/futuristapocalyptic collection inspired by the Tuareg of Northern Africa with Pokot inspired accessories. For Katungulu, debuting on the global scale was quite memorable. She explains, “It was a wonderful experience, very different from my previous shows. I feel like I have learnt a lot from it, and know there is still alot more I can do to get to the level I want to achieve.” It also made her rethink her overall strategy. “Because of [the show], the business idea of [my] brand has had to change.
The long term goals were to be able to stock within the country and globally, also maybe doing a few shows internationally, [I] didn’t quite expect it to happen so soon,” says Katungulu.
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