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Cheap and very chic

Rather than complain about the unfair competition that comes from cheap second hand clothes, fashion designer,

Angela Ola, the designer, wearing one of her up-scaled rompers. She shortened it. Photo\ Courtesy
Angela Ola, the designer, wearing one of her up-scaled rompers. She shortened it. Photo\ Courtesy

found a way to use them to her advantage.

“As a fashion designer I have always wanted to have an unusual twist to what I wear. So after one of my trips to Toi market (famous for second hand clothing) where I bought lovely clothes I decided to modify some,” she said.

With her sewing machine, sewing kit and accessories, Angela is able to change a simple top to a shoulder-studded piece or just chop off the bottom part and hem it into a cropped top.

“I decided to spend time thrift shopping and the finds were divine. So I up-scaled a few and it was magic. I have a way to lower production costs without having to compromise quality and my identity as a fashion designer,” she said.

Evolved

Her identity as a fashion designer has evolved over time. Although she continued to create original designs, Angela decided to ensure that 40 per cent of the garments and accessories she produced in a month would be from the up-scaled OLA Collection, her company.

Apart from being inexpensive, mitumba are often of good quality and from solid brands such as Atmosphere and Zara, or even designer labels like Gucci, Prada and the like.

This, Angela believes, affects a buyer’s psychology because the items are from noted brands; affordable, high quality and meet global fashion trends.

“Gone are the days when we would say that the effect of mitumba on a designer’s business was highly dependent on their target market; upmarket buyers know and shop at Toi too,” she said.

The up-scaling process mainly involves some quiet creative time to change the ordinary pieces into unique fashion with a touch of “Angela Ola”; a part of the process that involves personalising each piece.

“I measure, cut, stitch, stud, reap, sketch and create. The most interesting part about it is that each piece is unique, requires special attention and the final result is almost always 100 per cent rewarding.”

Doing both up-scaling for new and second-hand pieces calls for a delicate balance if only to ensure that she retains her identity in the fashion industry.

Lower risk

It also lowers the risk of her and her clients running into someone with similar clothes which she termed as her biggest problem.

She often works with jeans which she rips, bleaches or does patchwork on, dresses, tops, pants and rompers.

“I would not say that I am afraid about my up-scaled pieces overtaking my original designs. The recreated pieces simply complement what I create from scratch. Not content to stop there, she started the OLA 499 sale, “To allow fellow fashion enthusiasts buy clothes from my wardrobe for just Sh499 a piece and in a stylish, affordable, convenient, fast and trendy way,” she said.