Arts + Culture Fashion News

Kenyan Creative Producer Sunny Dolat Redefines African Fashion

November 6, 2019

 

Sunny Dolat is a Kenyan creative director and most engaged with fashion and production design. He co-founded “The Nest Collective”, a multidisciplinary Kenyan group working basically with film, fashion, music, and visual arts.

“The Nest Collective” first started as a meeting place for the young and talented artists based in Nairobi, who were inspired in the crossover between poetry, feminism, and technology.

For their “Stories of Our Lives” program the squad members travelled around Kenya to interact with over 200 Kenyans who identified as queer. The final result was a book and a feature film. The film was shown all over the world, but Kenya, where it was banned.

Most recently “The Nest Collective” published a fashion book entitled “Not African Enough”. The book discusses the rights of African creatives to step out of the traditional definition of what the world considers to be African. The gold is to challenge the existing narrative of African fashion, which is often seen is a very peculiar way.
Recently, The Nest Collective founded HEVA, Africa’s first creative business fund to courage and support the sustenance of East Africa’s creative entrepreneur.

 

 

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This past week I led a textile workshop with a small group of designers at the @goethe_kenya I’ve always been curious about what new African textiles, created in contemporary times, could look like, and what processes we could employ to develop them. The textiles we have today, such as kente, bogolan, lamba, aso oke, adire, bakuba, bark cloth, khanga and many others, were developed hundreds of years ago by our ancestors. Some of these knowledges live on today, with people of all generations painstakingly spinning and weaving by hand, recreating these beautiful, high quality pieces as art, as well as fashion and home decor. However, can we develop anything truly original in this area? There have been some fascinating explorations, such as that of Nigerian fashion designer @nkwo_official, who deconstructs denim offcuts and transforms them, via strip weaving, into a new textile dubbed dakala cloth. This also shows strong leadership in a fashion world which is beginning to take calls for sustainable, greener manufacturing and practice, much more seriously alongside the globe’s wider concerns about climate change. Perhaps we have a duty to continue adding to this magical, sacred array in our future-making, considering our ever expanding knowledge and access. As such, during this workshop, we allowed ourselves to imagine and dream, trying to tackle the question: What can an original, contemporary African textile look like? This is just phase 1 of this adventure, and I am really excited to see where it will go!

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