THE BUSINESS OF FASHION MAGAZINES

PHOTO | COURTESY | ZACHARY SAITOTI A photo from the online magazine, watchthisspace.com, titled ‘The Seven Deadly Sins: Introducing Pride’.
PHOTO | COURTESY | ZACHARY SAITOTI
There’s no business like the fashion business. The last five years have been distinctly vibrant and will likely constitute more than a footnote in the colourful history of Kenyan fashion.
There has been a lot of activity — though I am not sure it necessarily translates into money — that has unearthed key events like FAFA, African Fashion Fair and Nairobi Fashion Market that brought international designers weaving in and out of the country and given rise to fashion photography, blogging and catwalk talent.
This week saw the launch of www.watchthisspacemagazine.com, an online bimonthly fashion magazine created by Jeff Kegeri (graphic and apparel designer) and Zachary Saitoti (graphic designer and fashion photographer).
“It is more of a look book,” says Zachary. “I would like to show the world a different aspect to Kenyan fashion. People are used to looking at our fashion in one way and I want to tell them that it is creative, vibrant and we can do interesting things.”
If the pair play their cards right, an online publication spreading the gospel of Kenyan fashion can place the international spotlight on not just them, but also key players.
Designers generally suffer from one fundamental flaw — they can’t self-promote and market themselves. Jeff adds, “Designers work from home. When you do that, you can’t just let anybody into your house. Yet they can’t rent premises — overheads are ridiculous. You can’t sustain your business because you just can’t afford it.”
Originality
Another problem is that originality is not that easy to come across.
“A lot of our designers extract their ideas from other fashion magazines. They don’t create; they adapt,” Jeff adds.
“I think there isn’t enough experimentation or willingness to fail in order to get to that place. Though to add to that, thanks to events like FAFA, designers are getting a platform,” Zachary notes.
But an online platform wouldn’t just give designers visibility, boutiques, shoe shops, creative photographers searching for an expressive outlet, stylists and young designers also stand to benefit.
The beauty of a fashion magazine is it consolidates everything under one shingle and starts to connect all the fashion dots, something Kenya desperately needs
I know plenty of fashion designers who believe if fashion is algebra, the solution to this equation is a magazine and I’ve met, and know of, several people, not all fashion insiders, who want to start one.
It is almost instinctive to think that because of who he is, Zachary’s project is guaranteed success. However, it will require passion, talent and discipline. Here’s the thing, and the pair know this, it will be difficult, hard and will require slogging.
While they might ultimately be able to answer one of the biggest fashion conundrums in Kenya yet — what happens to design students when they finish school? — Zachary and Jeff are certainly not the first to try their hand at an online magazine.
Nancie Mwai, a stylist and award-winning blogger (she was Blogger of the Year 2012) started kashamagazine.com in 2011 April, a bi-monthly, three-person project and marvel of photography in elegant layout. It lasted exactly three issues.
“It is not easy doing magazines. I don’t know why people think it is,” says Nancie. “There were many reasons it couldn’t work. We were a team of three, each with careers we were working on parallel to Kasha and at some point, we simply could not afford to continue with it. It was a very detailed magazine covering all aspects of fashion and needed a couple of stylists to help do it.”
They, like the young men, cobbled together their savings (though the men topped up theirs with a dollop from friends and family). It makes one vulnerable.

Culled:nation.co.ke
 
THE BUSINESS OF FASHION MAGAZINES THE BUSINESS OF FASHION MAGAZINES   Reviewed by Bashiru Olu Wasiu-Ayinde on 10:30:00 Rating: 5

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