Eli Mwendwa was born in Kenya but raised in the United Kingdom. He studied Public Health at the Canterbury Christ Church University but changed his career direction into something that has interested him since childhood: fashion. The 26-year old moved back to Kenya in September 2018 with steel determination to make his mark in the men’s fashion industry.
What have you been up to since moving back to Kenya?
I have been mostly networking with people in the fashion industry and I realise that there is a massive gap in men’s fashion here. I have already identified the need for fashion consultancy, a service I will be happy to offer.
When did you first notice that you had an interest in fashion?
It happened in two different stages actually. (Laughs). I am told that back when I was a child, I was very particular about my clothes. The second one-- the one which I recall—kicked off in my teens. I was a fashion trend setter and often begged my parents for money to go shopping during weekends. Looking good was top priority for me.
How do you decide what to wear?
I normally consider my mood and the kind of day I want to have ahead. This influences the colour combinations I will wear that day. Picking out an outfit can be difficult but I have made it simpler by creating a diversified closet that allows me to attain whichever look I desire.
How would you describe your style?
Smart casual is my style. I never want to be either too casual or too smart because the nature of my job doesn’t require me to wear a suit or joggers all day. I could pair a shirt and trainers by combining the colours and cuts to create a smart casual look.
What’s the one item of clothing you often wear?
White trainers. I feel like they make any outfit look interesting regardless of the colours.
If you had an opportunity to dress anyone, who would it be?
That’s a tough one. Generally, I would like to dress people in power, influencers so to speak. Their dressing needs to always be consistent with the messages they put across, you know.
What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
A certain leather jacket. I almost wear it everywhere when i am not required to wear a suit jacket.
What projects are you working on?
I wish not to pre-empt it so all I can say is that it will be big and that it is especially tailored for Kenyan men.
Do you have any stylists you look up to?
Zeddie Loki. I really admire how he works with smart casual, and sometimes very smart, outfits.
What are your current favourite trends?
Cropped trousers. They can be dressed up or down and that ankle space is important because without it, it becomes more or less a cramped up material, which is one of my pet peeves.
What would you never be caught dead wearing?
Sketchers. (Laughs). I just can’t see myself ever wearing them unless they have a massive turn in their brand. I just don’t find them stylish.
What’s the biggest challenge you have encountered so far?
Sometimes I grapple with a sense of having no direction. It makes my progress much slower but I am learning to think on my feet and execute decisions faster.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself having a big impact on men’s fashion in Kenya and beyond be it through freestyling, online interactions or even partnerships with others in the fashion industry.