Women-led Kenyan firm wins Fashionomics Africa sustainable design competition

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2021-04-07 08:54:58 – Kenya

Fashionomics Africa, a project of the African Development Bank, has announced a Kenyan shoe design house as the winner of its competition to help sustainable fashion producers.

Pine Kazi, a company that turns pineapple leaf and recycled rubber into trendy boots, won the $2,000 first prize in the Fashionomics Africa competition. In addition, the company will be able to demonstrate its creation at online events, share perspectives on the industry's main sustainability issues, and earn a certificate.

Olivia Okinyi, Angela Musyoka, and Mike Langa, who co-founded the brand, will also have access to media opportunities as well as mentoring and networking opportunities from competition partners.

Okinyi said that Pine Kazi is delighted to have won the first Fashionomics Africa competition in Africa. This is a great honor for Kenyans and the African continent as a whole. Musyoka added that if we have the confidence and patience to fulfill our dreams, they will all come true.

Pine Kazi's shoes are both creative and sustainable, according to the competition judges. The shoe upper is made of pineapple textile, with organic cotton lining on the inside. The sole is made of sisal plant fiber and is lined with recycled tires.

The Fashionomics Africa competition honors African fashion brands that are working to improve the way fashion is made, purchased, used, and recycled in order to foster more environmentally friendly consumer behavior.

After reviewing 110 submissions from 24 African countries, a jury of 4 judges representing the Bank and competition partners – the United Nations Environment Program, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the Parsons School of Design – chose three finalists: Pine Kazi, CiiE Luxuries, an eco-friendly accessories company based in Abuja, Nigeria, and clothing brand Labake Lagos.

The coordinator of the Fashionomics Africa initiative at the African Development Bank, Emanuela Gregorio said that all of the applications they got for the first edition of the Fashionomics Africa competition pleasantly amazed them. It was difficult to choose a winner, but the finalists stood out for their creative, long-lasting, and modern designs.

The division manager at the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department, Amel Hamza said that in the month dedicated to women around the world, they heard from this Fashionomics Africa contest that many women entrepreneurs are pushing for sustainable development and consumption, and they applaud their efforts.

Pine Kazi received 400 votes, CiiE Luxuries 318 votes, and Labake Lagos 268 votes in an online public vote with 986 participants.

The shoes are made entirely by hand to minimize carbon emissions and can last up to three years, according to Pine Kazi.

In Pine Kazi's competition entry, Okinyi mentioned that if they won, they would invest half of the prize money in machinery used to manufacture shoe source materials. “[This machinery] would bring pineapple leaf waste to use, resulting in more green jobs for unemployed youth,” she said.

The design house also stated that resources would be split evenly between natural dye research and development, the hiring of experienced stylists, and the creation of a centralized production system.

The African Development Bank's Fashionomics Africa initiative aims to increase Africa's involvement in global textile and fashion industry value chains, with a focus on women and youth.

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