Mallichi head designer Andria Kyalo talks everything fashion
Andria Kyalo is the head designer at Mallichic, a fashion brand that embraces African culture and innovative designs. She recycles fabrics in a bid to be part of the solution to the world’s pollution menace. She chats with Jasmine Atieno on her style influences and interests.
Tell us a little bit about your history in fashion.
My grandfather was a tailor and two of my uncles (Laban Kitaka of Lanito designs and Daniel Muendo of Tchisau Fashion House) followed in his footsteps.
This prompted me to start off in my career path in 2010 after completing high school, although the brand wasn’t more defined yet.
Gradually, in the next few years after working on my tailoring skills and earning a degree in design, the brand Andy K Designs came to be.
Mallichic was born from that and has been striving since to make its place and achieve its purpose in the Kenyan fashion and design industry.
How does your anti-pollution
Recycling of fabrics to create something new reduces the amount of waste that is thrown away and ends up collecting in large piles in dump sites.
So, we use such fabrics to make unique designs and this helps reduce the waste, a process which is friendly to the environment.
What makes your style stand out?
My style is unique not only to myself, but also to everyone whom I have tailored an outfit for.
I try to connect people to their personal style, which involves staying comfortable, but at the same time exploring new tastes and always adding a touch of exclusivity.
How has the reception been?
The industry can be hard to navigate and support for up and coming designers may not be as strong because of competitiveness and trying to get or remain relevant.
However, everybody who is truly passionate about fashion and design acknowledges the other’s presence and uniqueness.
Who is your fashion idol?
I have a couple of people who have inspired my design concepts. One of them is Vivienne Westwood.
Her designs derive from historical fashion and redesigning of old styles to create something that addresses the future of design. She also played a great role in the creation of punk fashion.
Mallichic focuses on Afro punk and Afro futuristic designs. The punk and futuristic aspects are inspired by some of Vivienne’s design concepts.
How best can I recycle an old trend to remain stylish and relevant?
You can introduce something personal and flattering into the look you are going for.
For instance, if you would like to try bell bottom jeans, you can choose to exaggerate the bell shape, add slits to show off your legs, use a different fabric for the bottom, or add layers of tiers to the bottom.
Just try and stay involved in the design and styling process so that you come up with an idea that flatters you and is unique.
What’s the situation of the fashion business in Kenya currently.
Our industry remains with the same grievances as it is throughout Africa. People are willing to support black entrepreneurs, but are not willing to meet their prices.
This leads to them falling back to ready-to-wear imported clothing options and those from thrift shops and markets.
However, more people are creating affordable ready-to-wear Made in Kenya collections.
So, hopefully business will get better with more brand awareness and local support.
What are your future plans for Mallichic?
To become not only a successful design and styling brand, but also to grow into a fashion movement that supports the growth of black entrepreneurs through innovative partnerships and educates more people into the culture of fashion and design.
Any fashionistas you are looking to work with in Africa and beyond?
My first pick would have to be Ruth Carter. She is a world-renowned African American costume designer famous for her work on the film Black Panther.
She has the ability to capture the essence of different genres and time periods. One of my biggest ambitions is to become a costume designer in my own right.
Give us a fashion tip to live by.
Be open-minded when it comes to your style. You need to discover what you like and not rely on other people’s perspective of what is fashionable or proper. Always aim to express yourself.