Kenyan Manufacturer SOKO Kenya Partners with British Retailer ASOS
LONDON, United Kingdom – British retailer ASOS has re-upped its partnership with SOKO Kenya, a Kenya-based manufacturing unit, on its Spring / Summer 2017 Made In Kenya collection. Widely available online, this private partnership is a prime example of how an Africa-based manufacturer can gain access to a global audience on the back of a major fast fashion brand.
With 18 styles including knitwear, denim, basic tees, and a few maxi and ruffle mini dresses, the collection features designs of local wildlife and foliage all made under fair-trade principles. In addition, the collection leverages drawings by local primary school children in fabric-blocked t-shirts and utilizes up-cycled dead stock garments in denim pieces with chiffon and jersey panels.
Now how exactly SOKO Kenya is branded to the ASOS audience is a critical question. SOKO Kenya is presented as a “charitable initiative clothing workshop" and is featured as part of the ASOS ECO Edit. Often African brands are marketed as feel good, philanthropic non-profits focused on providing job security and skills training. Many brands including SOKO Kenya no doubt achieve those honorable goals (and make ASOS look good in the process), but the market in some cases underestimates the integrity in driving a boldly for-profit business that can provide far more jobs and have far greater impact in the long-term. Profitable businesses can create sustaining value and contribute foundational pillars in formalizing the domestic fashion industry.