Deepa’s Or­ganic Col­lec­tion

She em­braces nat­u­ral al­ter­na­tives to toxic dyes, ma­te­ri­als

Business Daily (Kenya) - - TOP NEWS - James Kar­iuki jkar­[email protected]­tion­media.com

After be­ing in the fash­ion in­dus­try for 27 years, glob­ally-ac­claimed Kenyan stylist Deepa Dosaja has gone or­ganic. She is now mak­ing her clothes from pes­ti­cide-free tex­tiles, some dyed with nat­u­ral dyes that are not toxic to the skin.

“I am us­ing ma­te­rial pro­duced nat­u­rally free from pes­ti­cides and chem­i­cals ap­plied dur­ing man­u­fac­ture of tex­tiles,” she says.

She em­pha­sises on low usage of ma­chin­ery in favour of man­ual cloth mak­ing pro­cesses from draw­ing a sketch dur­ing a client brief to tai­lor­ing.

At her new Lore­sho Ridge Stu­dio in Nairobi, the Cana­dian-trained de­signer says she has a team of 14 work­ers who hand­stitch and dec­o­rate her clothes as she tar­gets con­sumers who pre­fer ma­te­ri­als that are kind to the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Tex­tiles and ap­par­els ma­chines are ef­fi­cient and do make eco­nomic sense for the mass mar­ket but they deny buy­ers that per­sonal touch that one gets from hav­ing clothes made by a per­son they know,” she says.

Ms Dosaja who dis­played her hand-wo­ven and em­broi­dered at­tires at the Com­mon­wealth Fash­ion Ex­change event at UK’S Buck­ing­ham Palace says Kenyans now ap­pre­ci­ate buy­ing be­spoke ap­par­els.

She sources her fab­rics from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and a Ugan­dan artist uses or­ganic paints to give them an in­trigu­ing fin­ish.

“The hand painter and tie and dye spe­cial­ist spends days work­ing on every three and a half me­tres pieces of ap­parel to come up with ex­clu­sive tastes as re­quested by clients,” she says.

The clothes go for be­tween Sh9,750 to Sh18,750 but are stitched upon re­quest from a client.

“It is a client’s taste that in­spires our de­signs. I sit down with a client and dis­cuss the needed piece of cloth­ing. We look at the oc­ca­sion in­tended as well as the sea­son thereby en­sur­ing the fi­nal prod­uct is fit for pur­pose,” she says. Ms Dosaja says Kenyans would cre­ate more

jobs if they bought Kenyan-made prod­ucts, en­sur­ing a round-the-year de­mand for lo­cally made clothes and ac­ces­sories.

Her newly-found sus­tain­able prac­tice looms large within her new out­fit where she de­lib­er­ately avoided use of oil-based paints in favour of wa­ter-based paints while her fur­ni­ture is just that—wood.

“I no longer use syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als and I pre­fer to source from Gap {Good Agri­cul­tural Prac­tices} cer­ti­fied pro­duc­ers which en­sures my cus­tomers en­joy wear­ing clean prod­ucts. The skin is the big­gest or­gan, yet we hardly give a thought on the pes­ti­cides and chem­i­cals we ex­pose it to. I re­cently im­ported clean silk ma­te­rial from Italy. “I am look­ing for­ward to 2020 when all my fab­rics and end-prod­ucts will be made from bio-degrad­able ma­te­ri­als,” she says. The fash­ion de­signer who got a diploma in fash­ion and de­sign in Canada says she has started train­ing in­terns to em­brace hand wo­ven, hand-dec­o­rated and em­broi­dered tech­nolo­gies to en­sure orig­i­nal­ity in their prod­ucts. This has helped nur­ture lo­cal tal­ent.

Known as ‘con­scious-fash­ion’, Ms Dosaja says open­ing up of an Africa-wide Free Trade Area could bring in bet­ter fab­rics that suit a cus­tomer’s needs for var­ied de­signs.

“Kenya has the skills and it is upon us to make prod­ucts that stand out glob­ally. De­sign­ers should la­bel their prod­ucts and Kenyans should be proud to don lo­cally made at­tire when­ever they go across the globe,” she added.

PHO­TOS/DIANA NGILA

DE­SIGNER Deepa Dosaja at her new bou­tique in Lore­sho, Nairobi.

NEW BOU­TIQUE that stocks en­vi­ron­ment­con­scious clothes made from non­toxic dyes and tex­tiles.

HER DE­SIGNS Some of her clothes at bou­tique.

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