Kevo Abbra: Reimagining a new Africa through Fashion and Style

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Kevo Abbra: Reimagining a new Africa through Fashion and Style

– News Article

Over the last few years, Kevo Abbra, a self-taught Kenyan born and based artist, has been recognised as one of the leading fashion stylists, costume designers and prop masters on the African continent within the genre of Afrofuturism.

His impressive creations bring to life and capture the stories that he hopes the world will see and appreciate through his unique and distinct style.

His career kicked off at an early age, driven by his curiosity when it comes to garments, as well as his intense fascination with his late father’s way of dressing. This later grew into a venture of curating styles and sourcing of clothes from Gikomba, a market introduced to him by his dad, and selling of clothes at a profit while still in high school. Having grown up in Kawangware, Nairobi, he drew inspiration from its commotion that he finds beautiful, its colourful environment and lifestyle, and the richness of its people and their culture.

Kevo sees fashion as a way of defining character. His work is infused with creativity, curiosity and a keen eye for detail, driven by his passion for global definitions of style.

Throughout his artistic fashion journey, the use of colours, textures and prints have governed his aesthetic style. He creates a powerful platform to convey important messages on topics such as equality, inclusion, representation, conservation, care for the elderly and cultural heritage.

He reimagines a new Africa through fashion and style.

He has worked with high-profile clients and brands, including Marvel (Black Panther), the Oprah Winfrey Network, the Universal Music Group, Universal Music SA, Foschini, KFC, British American Tobacco, Vodacom, Nikon, and many more. He was commissioned as lead stylist for the Hub of Africa Fashion Week 2016, and his projects have been featured on media and other platforms such as CNN, BBC, Vogue, Design Indaba, and Afropunk, just to name a few.

His passion has seen him work on several projects while collaborating with an impressive list of creatives from different fields, e.g. photographers such as Osborne Macharia, Joey Lawrence, Fabrice Monteiro and so forth; designers including Maxhosa by Laduma, Fiona Kay, Le Kasri Kenya, Yefikir, Paradise Fashion and Zaaf; as well as musicians like Metro Boomin, Sauti Sol, Blinky Bill and Khuli Chana, amongst others; and finally directors such as Suna Gonera, Andrew Mageto, Tosh Gitonga and Nicole Maria Ackerman, in creating visuals on both personal and commercial projects.

Some of Kevo’s work:

Commissioned:

  • Album artwork for SAUTI SOL, Kenya’s leading Afro-pop band for their fifth album titled Midnight Train (commissioned by the Universal Music Group).
  • Promotional images for a hip-hop producer Metro Boomin for his come-back album Not All Heroes Wear Capes (commissioned by the Universal Music Group).
  • Key art photography for Queen Sugar season III (commissioned by the Oprah Winfrey Network).

Personal projects:

  • A recent personal project called TATU (meaning ‘three’ in Kiswahili) which features new custom designed three-stripes apparel by Kevo and a collection of aged Adidas Superstar shoes from a collector in Nairobi.
  • Pinktober, for breast cancer awareness.
  • Kawangware Defence Force (KDF), to highlight the story of four HIV/AIDS orphaned boys. Schoolkids by day, neighbourhood watch patrollers by night, the boys masquerade as members of their school’s home-science club. The boys designed and built their own all-in-one surveillance and communication head units using old Boda Boda (motorcycle taxi) helmets and salvaged electronic parts capable of sending untraceable calls to the area police. During school nights, the boys take turns patrolling the dimly lit neighbourhoods and alerting police of imminent danger. Their real identity is still unknown.
  • Behind-the-scenes of some of Kevo’s personal projects:
    • Nyanye, a fictional story about Kenya’s League of Extravagant Grannies, who were corporate and government leaders in the 1970s. Today, they are retired and live the high life, travelling to exotic places.
    • Watchmen by night, hip-hop heads by day. This is the story of four gentlemen in the heart of Kariobangi (one of Nairobi’s informal settlements) who call themselves Kabangu. This group of hip-hop heads from the 1980s meet up regularly to educate and mentor upcoming young talent venturing into the hip-hop industry. They teach them on values such as peach, equality, prosperity and social justice.