Being a first time blogger it’s quite difficult to come up with something to talk about- I mean bloggers are under constant scrutiny on what they say about pretty much anything. But today a light bulb lit on what I would like the world to know especially Kenyans. I am a professional fashion designer with a degree actually a bachelor of science (smiley face because I feel very important right now-any who) and recently finished school. In my four years of designing professionally and a lifetime of a developed interest and talent in the field (I made clothes for my dolls; good clothes might I add) I came to understand that designers are not respected.Period.
So when I went to campus four years ago I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to persue as a career. I was an A student, among the top, I was a school captain (major achievement right there) I had it all figured out. I probably would have been a doctor or a lawyer (not really) or an engineer. A science oriented career because it was what I thought I was interested in. So I didn’t manage to get a clean A to pursue the medical career I thought I would do because I knew there was no way my parents would pay half a million per semester for me to spend my years with cadavers. Plan B had to come into play-I do economics I mean I like money (a lot) and it’s somewhat prestigious and I will be calculating really complex mathematical equations and stuff. The interesting bit about all of it was I knew in my life I would do fashion. I would quit my job and pursue fashion when I’m probably thirty with kids and married.
So as I was waiting to go to campus in September 2012, I get called to do fashion design and marketing. Wow wow wow. It was a mixed emotion of ecstasy, confusion and shock. I didn’t really know if it was a good or bad thing because I wanted to be an economist and my dream at 30 came a decade earlier. Eventually I decided to stick to fashion because I got tired of studying so hard for good grades (thanks to the 8-4-4 system) for knowledge that didn’t really get utilized fully. Choosing fashion was a shock to many and I mean MANY people who knew me. It was unfathomable and I could literally see the sneers and dismay on the faces of the people I disclosed this information to.
Fast forward to 2016 and I’m not entirely sure what I want to do in fashion design. Following one’s dream isn’t that easy because you are treading on grounds that are not definite and many are times when you want to quit and just do economics ( 8-4-4 system again).
Let me educate you on who a fashion designer is. A fashion designer is a person who applies design application and aesthetics or natural beauty to clothing and accessories. So in order for us (designers) to apply aesthetics we need to study a variety of factors before we produce anything. We need to study the people who are wearing the clothes, the environment, the climate, the trends, the traditions of the people, their religious affiliations and all the textiles and fabrics available to make a single thought of a garment come to life. Might I add clothing is a basic need? You need us to cover your bodies; heck we need ourselves to cover our own bodies.
So when we go through all this aspects we process it in our extremely smart brains and minds and filter all that to some up with a design- like super creative computers! We make a rectangular woven piece of cloth fit you well and you can walk comfortably and look extremely stunning. The Kenyans we are want to diminish our jobs. You come to us requiring a design done for you. So this is what the conversation goes like:
Customer: I want this done for me (shows the design to me)
Designer: Oh alright, very nice (instantly gets into the creative process of making the design come to life).
So we will use this and this fabric to bring it out and fit your body perfectly.
Customer: how much will it cost?
Designer: The cost will be ksh.4000
Customer: what???!!!! That’s so expensive!! Why?? Si the tailor charges 1500 for such a task?
Designer: (smiling) Okay then. Maybe you should see your tailor then.
Imagine someone coming to your very important office asking for a service. You know you are good but they demand cheaper rates because someone else offers cheaper? Or your employer decides your salary will be reduced by 20% because your task on a specific date was not up to “required standards”. I’m sure you will feel awesome knowing you have to eat and survive in our country. Come on Kenyans?!
A tailor is someone whose occupation is making fitted clothes such as suits, pants, jackets to fit individual customers. The confusion comes with “making clothes”. Designers work hand in hand with tailors but we are NOT the same. Not all fashion designers are tailors and not all tailors are fashion designers-but you can be both.That’s why we put labels on our products, that’s why we go for fashion shows, we predict what you would like to wear in the future. We put the F in fashion and D in design. Like any other career out there-lawyer, doctor, plumber or even engineer, designer is part of the list. We are artists and value our work tremendously as all other careers value their work! Fashion designers MUST BE RESPECTED.