Upcycling Incubator Programme and a new Documentary in the making
Where it began…
Kenya is one of Africa’s biggest importers of secondhand clothing with some 185,000 tonnes being imported solely in 2019. The post-consumer waste exported mainly from the EU, US, China and Canada — called Mitumba - forms the main bulk of Kenyans’ fashion choices: an estimated 91.5 percent of households buy secondhand clothing priced at Ksh1000 and below. There is so much overshadowing from the Mitumba, creating a negative impact on not only the environment, but also on the people of Kenya and the local fashion and textile industry which has nearly collapsed.
The textile markets in Kenya are overflowing with enormous piles of used clothing; the streets of Nairobi have become an outdoor shopping mall for secondhand clothes and the rivers of Kenya are polluted with textile waste. A charity done in a good faith has turned into a hazard that is threatening the whole world. Too generous, perhaps?
Completely Out of Fashion (director Jaak Kilmi) is a sequel to the documentary titled “Out of Fashion” which first premiered in 2015. While the first edition took the audience on a journey from the fashion stages of Europe and the cotton plantations of South America right into the epicentre of mass production in Bangladesh, the follow-up focuses on the trails of post-consumer textile waste and its potential for reuse and upcycling.
One of the main storylines of the documentary is an upcycling fashion design incubator programme in Kenya, instructed by Reet Aus and funded by the Estonian Centre for International Development. The project's main goal was to inspire local Kenyan designers creatively and direct them towards an ambitious adventure in turning textile waste into sustainable fashion. Consequently, a huge amount of used clothes from the markets of Gikomba found their way into a more meaningful fashion, making a statement on their own.
What's the Message?
The circular concept is very familiar to Africans as they always look to reuse something. The local young designers use their endless creativity in making the best out of the worst- by upcycling the textile waste from the West, they continue to embark on an ambitious adventure in turning it into new, sustainable fashion.
This is what our campaign is all about - showing how creativity can create wonderful upcycled designs from what would otherwise end up destroying our environment. But the question remains - should the UK, the US, Europe, China, Canada and others send their rubbish to Africa? We think not. And it lies in the hands of us all to raise awareness of the post-consumer textile waste. Find out more by following the journey of the documentary filming and the final collections of the incubator programme Completely Out of Fashion.
The final showcase of the new upcycled designs made by 12 Kenyan designers, who are graduating from the 6-month fashion incubator, will take on 3rd of April 2022, in Alchemist Nairobi.