It’s not every day you get the honor of being invited by one of the biggest airlines in the continent to their hangar, with a Dreamliner right on the runway, to an upcycling fashion show right there next to the plane. Last week, at an invite only event, Kenya Airways hosted a one of a kind fashion show, dubbed Kenya Airways (KQ) Sustainability Design Challenge. The well attended event had the who’s who in the Kenyan fashion industry, media and students from various colleges/ universities in the house and directors, management and staff of KQ led by Ursula Siling, the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer.
Every so often, airlines around the world change their uniforms and in so doing they may have old uniforms that are not of use anymore. Instead of probably throwing the old uniforms into the trash like most corporates do, Kenya Airways through its Suitability Department led by Jacquie Muhati, engaged Fashion students from various private and public colleges in Nairobi and set them a challenge to design and produce fashion items from old uniforms and produce fashions items that may appeal to various target audiences.
Kq then teamed up with leading industry gurus; Sandstorm, The Core Fashion with Linda Murithi, Couture Magazine, Connie Alouch Styling Management and Hisi Fashion House in working with students from Mcensal School of Fashion, Evelyne school of Fashion, Mefa Institute of Fashion and University of Nairobi (School of Art and Design). The students were given one month to come up with upcycled products from Kenya Airways and Partners, in the hope that from this, they could create a solution as a future option for upcycling uniforms.
The culmination of this challenge was the well put together Fashion show at the airline’s hangar- beautifully curated with Pridestars from Kenya Airways Price Centre walking the runway. Jacquie Muhati, Head of Sustainability, Partnerships & Events at Kenya Airways said the company had been looking for ways to discard its uniforms in a thorough but sustainable way. In so doing, partnering with students from various fashion schools, KQ tapped into the Youth creativity and this, coincided with International Youth Day. Upcycling is indeed very beneficial in that, the old uniforms and materials are recycled, companies add an eco-friendly touch to their brands, and their consumers and population at large like the story behind the upcycled product. University of Nairobi (School of Art and Design) students won the challenge.
The company CCO Ursula Silling in a speech, reassured all that as a company, their agenda was and is premised on ensuring they throw away nothing that can be reused or re purposed. “I would therefore like to reinforce our commitment to working with different partners, students, youth and fashion designers to upcycle our products to develop new ones and in some cases add value to some existing products.”
The global fashion industry is a $2.5 trillion-dollar industry and employs over 75 million people. Fashion therefore is a key economic pillar playing an essential role in attaining the UN Sustainable Development Goals.