By WINNIE WENGER WALCOTT
To you people in the fashion industry, I greet you hoping that you are well?
I know things are tough and we are a struggling but upcoming fashion industry. I would have loved to compare our Kenya Fashion Industry with the rest of the world but I must admit I have been wrong and so are you; but again I trust there is no harm in comparison since it leads to the right decision.
What I have come to discover is that our designers are dying; well not literally but ” designically ” if there is a word like that. As this happens our models are also in the verge of joining what our society won’t tolerate.
There once was designers like Moo-cow, Betty Vanetti and other top fashion houses that I used to read about while young but now they don’t exist. Well Betty Is scouting models and doing choreography but I don’t hear much of the collection. No pun intended. What is going on with your fashion industry? Why are our models still broke? What exactly do we need to do to enable the government understand that apart from education there are other careers that needs to be thought of, funded and have a bill passed that is able to improve the standard of living or create job opportunities in Kenya ?
I remember so well when Jacqueline Geoffrey Fleur told me about a model who was on a magazine but not able to buy that magazine from the supermarket stand. Then there is that designer whose clothes have been won by who is who In Kenya yet their stores or fashion houses are still falling down till people start gossiping about their closure. Well some are down already.
To our models my deepest sympathy is that they are taking cheap jobs or even doing the work for free just to appear on the paper, magazine or advert then they rush to facebook and instagram and write #Godspeed #TopModel but my question here is, where is God speed you are preaching when you are still broke more than how you started modeling? Did you know that the job you took for free in the name of ” we don’t have a budget ” is making millions out there? What is your goal?
I happen to find people running to me about how a show organizers ran away with the models money or a designer travelled to New York to take care of some business immediately after the show or, a top magazine failed to pay the models for one year and six months and a whatsapp group is formed and the bad guy Letoya Johnstone is added to fight for models and pageants to get their money paid by the so called. Why don’t we just do things right by us and by ourselves?
” Models in Kenya are not professionals. Modeling to them is a hobby. That’s the reason I can’t pay them that much ” This came from a designer in a forum when I asked this question, ” If you say you are making money then why do you still pay models so cheap and putting them on the road many times for fittings, training choreography and catwalk coaching yet you always pick them when they have all the qualities you need including catwalk? ”
I was also told that ” these models are just interested in being famous and so long as you give them Runway or TV commercials for free they are satisfied. Why do we pay them when we are making them famous? ” well just so you people understand this situation well, the models don’t want to be famous . There are millions of famous people in the world already. These model’s goal is to be BOOKED and PAID. ”
There is no difference between a person using a designers clothes to style an individual for free yet they are being paid and a model being paid less or used without payment because you think you are making them famous. Pay the models and buy from these hardworking designers then they will take care of fame.
The designers work with a team of people to produce that final product you admire and say, ” So and so does an impeccable job or is a top designer. ” help them recover their money so that they are able to call fame and fame to obey them by catwalking coming to them.
Help these models understand that modeling require standard and is a cutthroat business like any other by booking them and paying them. This is because everyone wants to benefit and fame is irrelevant unless it is coming with a dollar sign.
Imagine a country where the designers clothes are either hired or bought for fashion spreads. A country with models pay and standard is set, and even booking process done the right way. A policy of a country that makes sure that information, laws and regulations are met before one does any business.
I dream of a country where everyone is not just a model, designer etc but the art is respected irrespective of if one went to school or not. The western countries we admire were once upon a time where we are today and this is the main reason I am not giving up on our Kenya Fashion Industry yet. This change must start from you and me then the government will come in and understand us and give what we want. Rules and regulations and standards.
I want to wake up and see people of my country look at the second hand clothes and say, ” I will buy Kenya because I don’t see any difference between Gucci and Anyango Mpinga collections, both in terms of workmanship and quality. ”
I want to wake up to see models realise how business of modeling is paying till they say ” I paid my university through fashion and now I am a geothermal engineer , teacher , designer ” or anything they wanted to be.
I hope that we may go back to the days when models were paid 1.5 Millions for advertising a product instead of today’s 20,000 Ksh and your images are exploited on TVC and print. We all want to be booked and paid. That is our goal.
I apologize if I might have offended other people but my writing is just a pain out here. I did not mean to offend anyone but to pass information. I hope it finds you well. Our goal is to be booked and paid. Not to be popular.