Kenyan Street Style With 2ManySiblings
Interview with Kenyan street style fashion duo 2ManySiblings, Velma Rossa and Papa Petit.
2ManySiblings are the Kenyan brother and sister duo of Velma Rossa and Papa Petit. The pair form part of a new wave of emerging cool creatives, showcasing young & vibrant style in harmony with their Kenyan culture on their Tumblr page. The siblings boast a deep sense of style, mixing mainstream clothing, vintage pieces and Kenyan items. We spoke with the 2ManySiblings trendsetters below:
Poundo for Okayafrica: What does 2ManySiblings stand for?
Velma Rossa: 2manysiblings is a passion project run by me and my brother, Papa Petit, hence the name. The project simply started out of the need to document our clothes and how we live in them. The blog has since taken a life of its own and now it's about collaborative processes with African photographers (that's when we're not doing the photography ourselves) to show their different aesthetics using us as their muses, it's sort of a tag team effort. 2ManySiblings is serves as acuration space for art & photography.
OKA: What does fashion mean to you?
Papa Petit: Fashion is a medium of self expression and should depict your personality in the terms of visual information. It's about wearing what you feel on the inside, outside.
OKA: How would you define Nairobi's fashion?
PP: Fashion in Nairobi is a collage of different styles and inspirations. [It] varies from the dapper men in suits to teenage youth influenced by hip-hop and skateboarding culture always spotted wearing ripped pants and sneakers. In general, fashion in Nairobi is growing rapidly. More young and energetic people are getting involved in the industry from bloggers, stylists, designers, and fashion editors. The corporate sector has also got involved leading to an upsurge in fashion events.
OKA: What are your favorite Kenyan fashion designers?
VR: I swear by Adele Dejak's jewelry. She interprets & translates the words 'statement' & 'bold' well into her pieces.
Papa Petit: I'd have to say my brothers at Blackbird jeans, Afro shoes and Nick Ondu.
OKA: Where's the best place to find incredible garments in Nairobi?
PP: Depending on what your looking for, there are various cool places to shop for clothing. We have our flea markets and, also, our local designer shops which have a variety of incredible pieces. We live for thrift!
OKA: Where do you seek inspiration?
PP: Our parents' old album photos have been visually inspiring, market days at the Maasai Market too — there's so many vibrant colours, shapes and textures. Interesting individuals.
OKA: What is cool?
VR: Y O U T H.
OKA: What makes a good look?
PP: You first have to have a vision of the look you're going for. Then other technical things like the fit, colour, above all individuality is key in carrying a look, daring to combine different styles and having fun with it!
OKA: Stylistically, what is your favorite movie?
VR: Tom Ford's A Single Man, there's this impeccable monochrome dress Julian Moore wears in a certain scene, it's RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING!
PP: Great Gatsby, I was all about the dapper 1920s men's style sensibilities.
OKA: Do you think that 2ManySiblings is bringing something new to the table?
VR: We're not necessarily bringing something new, but adding to the positive thread of our dear beloved continent through images. We're about rebranding Africa, encouraging people to see Africa in a an appreciative light.
OKA: What do you think about the state of art and fashion in Africa today?
VR: Using my country Kenya as a reference, art culture has grown quite a bit. There are different disciplines at different levels but they've all grown. I feel that the younger generation are more interested in things like fine art and fine art photography, film and music. Pretty much things that have a kind of a modern day technology connection or influence. That said,we live in a community that sees art and artists as a luxury and as somewhat superficial. And that's a problem. Why should art only be purchased by expatriates? That's because a fair share of Kenyans don't value art. We don't understand why it's important. Art is a commentary on issues affecting the country (political, economical, environmental and social). Not all commentary has to be words. We need to find ways for the common citizen to engage with art. There's always room for more to be done.
PP: The African fashion industry is currently at an all time high. Firstly, because we've started to associate with all things African and there's a shift in mentality where the African ankara/batik fabric is not considered as old fashioned people clothes. It's now considered cool. This being the case it has created a lot of room for innovation, but we need to get to a point where local designer labels have [the ability] to generate enough revenue to become million shilling and dollar businesses. We [should] stop gazing at the Milan New York and London fashion stories and create our own continental fashion power centre that suits our seasons and our various fashion personalities.
OKA: How would you describe 2ManySiblings in one sentence.
VR: That's not easy :)