Who is Nairobi Apparel District?
In the bustling heart of Nairobi, where creativity knows no bounds, a unique brand has emerged, pushing the boundaries of fashion and sustainability. Founded by Junior Orina, an artist-designer and the brand's creative director, Nairobi Apparel District (NAD) is a beacon of hope in an industry that has major waste and environmental concerns. NAD stands firmly at the intersection of art and upcycling, offering a fresh perspective on fashion that's true to the Kenyan culture and the spirit of Nairobi itself.
Where Upcycling Meets Art: NAD's Ethos
Nairobi Apparel District's mission goes beyond clothing; it's about fostering a community dedicated to sustainable practices. Within two years, NAD aims to demonstrate the economic potential of upcycling and recycling.
According to Orina, "We can encourage more young people to pursue careers in this field, thus creating a new generation of entrepreneurs who prioritise sustainability. Our mission is to become a community hub for art, upcycling, and recycling, providing a fantastic space for individuals interested in creative ways to repurpose items and reduce waste."
Diving into the Collection
Nairobi Apparel District's latest collection is a testament to their commitment to sustainability and artistry. Collaborating with designers from other parts of Africa, NAD has crafted a line inspired by Kenyan leaders and Nairobi street culture, with pieces including hoodies, jeans, co-ord sets and denim jackets. These leaders' faces grace some of the pieces, paying homage to the local heroes who have shaped the country and the continent as a whole.
The collection's style is a fusion of mixed media, featuring screen printing and playing with paints and dyes. They also used a mix of materials, including starchy boxy fabrics, cotton, and denim. This approach lends a utilitarian feel to the collection, incorporating tactical vests and versatile jackets connected by zippers that can be cropped if needed. Notably, NAD subverts the traditional African print by incorporating a black and white giraffe pattern in a few of their co-ord sets, adding a unique twist to their pieces.
In line with their ethos, NAD upcycled the pieces in this collection from thrift shops and markets, using second-hand (locally known as ‘mitumba’ ) clothes to create something new and different. Junior Orina explains, "Our target consumers are millennials and Gen-Z. Our project aims to create economic opportunities and build a community centred around upcycling and recycling in fashion."
Our Thoughts on the Collection
Nairobi Apparel District's latest collection exudes a cool, grungy vibe that seamlessly blends streetwear with the aforementioned utilitarian aesthetic. It's an entirely new and refreshing addition to the fashion market, breaking away from conventional styles.
At Arrai, we're thrilled to see Nairobi Apparel District's growth. We've witnessed their success at various pop-up events and FLUID, our own exhibition, confirming that people are not only interested in their products but eager to support sustainable fashion. We firmly believe that NAD has the potential not only to expand locally but also to scale internationally. Their authentic brand and unique perspective on Nairobi's street culture are exactly what the world is looking for, and we are excited to be part of their bright future. NAD is not just a fashion brand; it's a movement that's changing the way we view clothing, art, and sustainability.