Kitenge Kulture (Part One): Nairobi Closet

I am sure we have all witnessed the exponential increase in the number of local clothing designers in Kenya. Actually, thinking about that, let me rephrase. I am not sure if the number of local designers has been on the rise (highly probable) but Kenyans have an increased interest in them.


For a long time, ‘mtumba’ (second-hand clothing) has ruled Nairobi’s (and Kenya’s)  fashion streets. For a number of reasons; topping the list is that mtumba clothing is affordable and unique.  But in the past 2 years or so, Kenyans are increasingly getting clothes designed for them both by their ordinary ‘fundi wa nguo’ (tailor) and well established local designers like Kaveke, Sylvia OworiPatricia Mbela et al. And more recently, there has been a Kitenge trend going around. Previously, I thought of Kitenge as old-fashioned and for my mother’s generation (no offence if you’re reading this mum). I now think Kitenge is cool.


Let’s face it, we young people cannot afford a Kaveke dress. But thanks to affordable online stores like Nairobi Closet, with every order we place, we get closer and closer to feeling like we have been dressed by the best. I stumbled upon the Nairobi Closet facebook page by chance. You know, a few facebook friends had liked their page, this appeared on my homepage, I was like ‘ah, lemme check it out’… *fast forward* I ended up with two beautiful items of clothing. YAY!

Nairobi Closet was founded by the young, beautiful entrepreneuring Janet Kireri, Maureen Wairimu and Sharon Awitty. They sell shoes and do customised clothing  as well as ready-designs. Most of their items are from Kitenge or Khanga fabric. (Read more about Kitenge and Khanga here.)

Nairobi Closet jumpsuit
model in Nairobi Closet khanga jumpsuit
Nairobi Closet kitenge brogues
Nairobi Closet kitenge brogues

I fell in love with Nairobi Closet designs when I saw this skirt…

Nairobi Closet kitenge peplum skirt
Nairobi Closet kitenge peplum skirt.
KES 1000

This beauty is a dual-print  high-waist kitenge peplum mini skirt. What’s there not to love about it? I wanted it immediately!

My mum has lots of kitenge wear. And she has the most beautiful prints. I saw the skirt above and *light bulb moment* ran to scavenge for all the left over material from her own dresses. She gave me these 3 remnant fabrics.

Some Kitenge designs
Some Kitenge designs

Thank you mommy.

ITEM 1: Kitenge peplum skirt

I decided to order the skirt and have it done with my own material. I had it changed up a bit.

1. I wanted it in one print, my own material.
2. I felt that the peplum detail would not come out as boldly as it would in dual-print so I asked to have a frill at the border.
3. I also asked to have it made 2 inches longer than it usually is.
4. I covered up the slit because when I wore it it was indecently high and very exposing.

I paid only KES 700 for the skirt because I used my own fabric. However, Nairobi Closet has a variety of fabrics to choose from.


left: embroidered frill border detail
right: front view
back view
back view
side view
side view

ITEM 2: Denim shirt with kitenge detail

I had kitenge detail added to a denim shirt I owned. Here’s how it turned out. I LOVE IT! I wore it on campus two days ago and was showered with compliments. It was really cheap to have done. ONLY KES 300! 10 points for affordability.

excuse all the environmental noise in the picture
excuse all the environmental noise in the picture
a little crazy is good

Please visit the Nairobi Closet facebook page for details on how you can place your order. 

Kitenge Kulture part two coming up where I share some other two items of clothing I had done by a different designer and tailor. 

**** I was listening to Pink’s The truth about love album as I typed this and I think it is terrible that she did not include Africa (read South Africa) in her worldwide tour. There’s an enormous fan-base here! oh well 😦 ****

Have a beautiful week ahead people. 🙂

20 thoughts on “Kitenge Kulture (Part One): Nairobi Closet

  1. mariadhiambo says:

    Nelly!! si you’ve outdone ourself?!! The upgrade is timam sana na tena sana!
    Some sections of the text are a bit hard to read though, due to the background colour effects.. but all in all, very nice!
    And yes, hizo Canadian views nyingi nyingi ni mimi tu 😉 haha

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