Is Africa the Next Big Thrifting Destination? These Kenyan Siblings Think So
So often the fashion conversation among siblings revolves around clothing that has gone, ahem, “missing.” But for Kenyan sister-brother duo Velma Rossa and Oliver Asike, a shared love of clothes and art yielded a wildly popular blog, 2ManySiblings, documenting their eye-catching street style and insatiable vintage shopping habit, and their annual Nairobi Thrift Socials. The 20-something siblings use the Thrift Socials as an opportunity to spotlight the flourishing network of creative individuals throughout the continent. Championing the designs of young African designers like Fashion Mountain, M+ K Nairobi, and their own brand, Rossa and Asike have shifted the conversation on fashion in Africa.
Here, Rossa gives us a 2ManySiblings view on the African thrifting scene, including which flea markets to scour when visiting Nairobi, and what to expect from the emerging fashion capital.
It’s All About a Mix
“Nairobi’s style is a mixed bag: different style tribes whose diverse cultures are inspired by all things vintage. There’s the gentlemen influenced by the sapeurs or those who prefer the luxe minimal caftan (sometimes in wax print) dictated by the weather we have, mostly sunny all year round. The other end of the spectrum has the skater cool-kid style of dress. We draw influences from everything in the city: shapes and lines of buildings; colors of food and spices in the local market places; people and their individual sartorial vibes.”
“We wouldn’t say we are secondhand experts: We simply document that industry and the lifestyle associated with it. Many of our peers make a living out of it and it has contributed immensely to the street style culture in Nairobi. The biggest misconception is that we are too dependent on the secondhand industry and that we can’t produce for ourselves. Most people in Kenya, for instance, are low-income earners and buy secondhand clothing because it’s affordable. However, things are changing and people are supporting more locally produced clothing. The best place to buy vintage has to be Gikomba, which is the biggest flea market in East and Central Africa. It’s always good to go early in the morning to get the best options before everyone else.”
On the Rise in Nairobi
“This is the ‘California’ neighborhood, which is in Eastlands, Nairobi, and is right next to Gikomba: We don’t come from there but it’s the most fashion-conscious neighborhood we know. You would think you are in Soho or in Paris. The Alchemist Bar is a pretty chill place to visit if you are in the city, too. It has the best live gigs, people, and diverse selection of food. We love Mama Rocks African-inspired gourmet burgers. It’s a favorite place among the creative community in Nairobi.”
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