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Q&A with Jordan Mwaura from Kenya’s Urban Pitchaz fashion collective

by | Nov 5, 2021

Meet Urban Pitchaz, a collective of four contemporary artists based in Nairobi, Kenya. The artists are focussed on fashion photography and film, telling authentic and relatable African stories. The themes are reinvention and experimentation. The collective acts as a bridge between East African fashion industry and the rest of Africa “since we feel that East Africa isn’t well documented”.

The members include; photographer and videographer Edwin Maina; PR manager; stylist and muse Bill Clinton Okang’a; graphic designer and muse Jordan Mwaura; and film and script writer and muse Ali Muro.

To find out more about the collective, we caught up with Jordan.

Your work focusses on fashion, particularly African fashion. Why is this important to you?

We believe that being authentic is the only way that our audience can relate to our content: we tell African stories through fashion. Not forgetting that we are the ones who can tell our stories best to the world – not an outsider.

In terms of your approach to fashion and styling, what is your understanding of sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a part of a process towards ecological integrity and social justice. It is concerned with responsible employment and encourages locally produced, biodegradable fabrics which have little to no adverse effects to the environment. It is working towards reducing fashion’s carbon footprint, it encourages up-cycling and recycling which ensures cleaner environments, also ensures transparency, better working conditions and less hazards in fashion production. It also ensures diversity and inclusion. Fashion companies have been criticised for lack of size, age, physical ability, gender, and racial diversity of models used.

Younger Africans are reclaiming local fashion: wearing local brands and supporting designers on the continent. Who are some of your favourite designers and labels working on the continent and why?

Some of our favourite designers are people who have inspired us from way back even before becoming a collective while we got to discover others in our journey as a collective. These include; Thebe Magugu, Kenneth Ize, Kiko Romeo, WAFFLESNCREAM, Wanda Lephoto, UNI FORM by Luke Radloff, STUDIO18, FREE THE YOUTH, just to name a few. These are also people working tirelessly on ideas with the little resources available in order to produce quality and stylish pieces of clothes that would stand out anywhere in the world.

I imagine that some of your styling work involves thrifting and upcycling. What does that process look like in Nairobi? Where are the great places to get pre-owned or thrifted items?

Yes, most of our styling work involves thrifting and upcycling. The process is made easier due to the availability of many thrifting stores and markets within the city as well as their affordability. We usually play around with the thrifted clothes to recreate new pieces of clothes to use on set. The biggest thrift market in Nairobi is known as “Gikomba” Market where you can find any kind of clothing to play around with and plenty of tailors to help with repairs at very affordable prices. There is also “Toi” Market and Ngara.

What kind of impact do you hope to have on the fashion industry?

First, we want to inspire and motivate fellow creatives from all over Africa to pursue fashion. If you put your passion, discipline, mind, and time to your art, it will be noticed. Your hard work will finally pay off since we are as good as everyone else. We hope to be the bridge between East African fashion industry and the rest of Africa since we feel like East Africa isn’t documented well enough yet.  We have so much that’s happening here – not only in the fashion industry but also in the art industry at large.

Lastly, we hope to be the “4 boys from Kenya” recognised internationally for telling our stories through timeless fashion photography and fashion film and also from the merchandise collection capsules that we’ll be designing and putting out.

What are you working on at the moment?

Haha.. It’s too early to spill the beans. But, indeed, more collective projects and more exciting collaborations both locally and internationally.

Images: Supplied

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