Sam Jairo Omindo is a self-taught designer and founder of Genteel Kenya. Founded three years ago, Genteel has made big strides in placing the local fashion industry on the international fashion scene.
Describe the ‘Genteel Man’
The “Genteel Man” is a culturally conscious, self-aware and confident person. He has a good sense of style and is unapologetic about it. He is good at what he does and excels on many levels in his career. He spares time for the important things and people in his life. You can always count on him to show up for your surprise party. In short, you realise that being a “Genteel Man” isn’t just a thing; it’s a lifestyle. A choice.
Which local or international brand would you love to partner with for a collaborative shoot?
I would love to partner with Ralph Lauren or Ozwald Boateng. I feel like they are brands that have captured the cultural spirit of their respective origin countries, and have successfully showcased them through clothes.
Lauren has managed to recreate the American culture and way of life, and showcased this in his pieces, while Boateng’ has carried the full weight of his native Ghanian culture and transmitted it through his subtle prints.
What are three must-haves from your current collection?
In the face of Covid-19 and people spending more time at home, I feel that a combination of the semi-casual White Popote Pale Shirt and Beige Kila Mahali Khaki pants offer the versatility and comfort needed to transition between the home office and “outsiding” with your friends and family (of course while maintaining social-distancing). Not to forget the GenTara face masks, which come in a variety of colours and shades.
What steps have you taken to stay relevant during this pandemic?
With support from the British Council, Mettā & Fashion Scouts UK, we partnered with Vintara Collections to create our three-ply GenTara Facemasks aimed at keeping people safe during the pandemic. For every box of masks bought, we donate one mask. We partnered with SOMO, a non-profit organisation offering support and training in low-income areas like Kibera, to help us distribute the masks.
What should the Kenyan government do to support and promote the fashion sector?
It should revive the local textile industry to ensure that we have access to cheaper fabrics, which will help reduce the cost of our products.
Secondly, the government should set aside funds to be accessed specifically by the fashion sector. This would help the creative sector, which is greatly underfunded but has a chance to grow and employ more people.
Source: Sunday Nation