ZikoAfrika’s Geometric Grace
ZikoAfrika was founded by two sisters with a dual heritage, who through their company continue to explore encounters between culture, community, and the future of African fashion.
Co-founding sisters Sisi and El studied together at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. While working in developmental fields, the two decided that their shared love for fashion and design could also be a key to empowering creative communities across Kenya. Once they established strong connections to workshops in Nairobi and Mombasa that provide training and adhere to Fairtrade guidelines, ZikoAfrika was begun.
Under the sisters’ tutelage, the company is a sitting board member of the Association of Fashion designers of Kenya, still building relationships with both the government and private sectors with the end game of a fair fashion industry in Kenya. Each product represents Kenya through its craftsmanship, locally-sourced materials, and a geometric play on iconic form and function.
The brass itself is recycled from door handles and other items, melted down and poured into the mold. There’s then a lot of work sanding and polishing. It’s incredible comparing what comes out of the mold and the end result.
“Our signature look of clean, geometric design in Perspex and brass runs through all the collections, so regardless of the inspiration behind the products they all embody ZikoAfrika,” Sisi says of their product line.
Three new collections embody ZikoAfrika’s aesthetic and respect for culture. NuNairobi reflects a more accessible urban sensibility- lots of color and popular culture references. “In Perfectly Imperfect we’re looking at peaks forming imperfect lines that are still aesthetically pleasing. It’s an exploration of culture and expectations colliding as Nairobi forms its identity. The use of broken geometry and clear Perspex makes these pieces edgy while still being quite subtle, appealing to consumers in their late 20’s to 30’s.,” the co-founder says of another collection. Zamani, a collection which applies the traditional techniques of the Tuareg, Ndebele and Swahili communities to minimalist, and elegant, design.
It’s in the process behind the designs where ZikoAfrika creatively aligns the intersection between modern technology and aesthetic with community values and traditional skill. In fact, the process behind many of their products comes in two varying parts. Perspex, a transparent plastic, is cut in downtown Nairobi with lasers and jigsaw cutters. The pieces are then polished by hand. Communities both in and out of the city craft the beading and sand-casting. Sisi explains another integral part of the process. “The brass casting is a really interesting process - molds are made from a mixture of sandy soil and molasses that are then baked until hard. Each mold can be used about three times before it is soaked and broken down to be remade. The brass itself is recycled from door handles and other items, melted down and poured into the mold. There’s then a lot of work sanding and polishing. It’s incredible comparing what comes out of the mold and the end result.” Each component is assembled at a central unit.
ZikoAfrika will showcase three capsule jewelry collections and an array of clutches, including products from the NuNairobi, Perfectly Imperfect, and Zamani lines at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javit’s Convention Center from February 5-8, 2017.
For more information, please visit http://zikoafrika.com