she shapes the city

Anne Mpinga ~ Fashion Designer

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Anne has named her latest collection for the clothing brand Kipusa #SheIsNairobi. She is doing this as part of the wider #SheIsNairobi campaign and she is in every sense a Nairobi girl herself.

Now on her fourth fashion collection she says the essence of her brand is balance, balance between meeting the needs of the curvy and the slim. She asks “What’s the point of making beautiful clothes for one size and when it comes to other sizes you water it down?” and points to the plus size sections in clothes stores where not enough attention has been given to the designs. Kipusa means beautiful young woman in Swahili and Anne’s ultimate goal is to see “women coming to life because of something I’ve made.”

Though Nairobian and proud Anne’s creative and professional break through was inspired by a rival African capital, Addis Ababa. As a young 20 something Anne spent two years in Ethiopia, which she says was “on a personal level transformation…good for my soul”. Not only did she help launch the country’s first fashion week but away from her roots she grew into the woman she is today. She explains “I finally started understanding myself better, what I liked, what I didn’t…I became more myself.” When the two years was up however there was no doubt that she would return to the town of her birth. In her eyes Nairobi is incomparable “you just don’t find cities like this very easily. When you drive around if it’s not the greenery that will get you it’s going to be the beautiful sky or the perfect weather.”

As one of Nairobi’s biggest cheerleaders Anne admits that there are tensions in the city. When asked about her hopes for the capital’s future she says “I want to see a less angry society.” She believes that “Because we have such a rising middle class of educated women who are holding high positions in the workplace and are finally competing on the same level as men. They have a voice and they’re not afraid to use it.” Some men are trying to support this culture but “but not hard enough. If a woman can walk down the streets and be heckled in whatever she’s wearing, that’s not being supportive. In a way you’re trying to still put her down.”

Ultimately though what Anne sees in her city is possibility “This is the place you can start anything. You could decide you want to launch a rocket and you can do it in Nairobi.”