Ethical Fashion Initiative and Polimoda have announced a partnership that will award scholarships to 3 Kenyan fashion designers, building links between the fashion industries of Florence and Nairobi.

As part of this collaboration with the Florence-based fashion school, three Kenyan EFI Accelerator designers received scholarships for eight weeks of specialised training at Polimoda’s campus.  Katungulu Mwendwa (Katush) and Mohamed Awale (Suave) have just arrived in Italy, and this week they will start attending classes at the Florentine fashion school and connecting with the Polimoda international creative community, while Louise Sommerlatte (Hamaji) will join them in February.

World-known for its excellence in fashion education, the institute offers a series of undergraduate, graduate, and short courses ranging from Fashion Design to Fashion Business and Fashion Art Direction, including the most up-to-date topics of the fashion industry such as Sustainable Fashion, Fashion Styling, Creative Direction, Trend Forecasting, and many others.

The EFI Designer Accelerator is a 2-year programme designed to propel selected brands towards success in the global marketplaceThe Accelerator covers all aspects of running a fashion label, from sourcing and building sustainable supply chains to storytelling and finance, and brands are financially supported to bring their collections to market.

With dedicated mentorship led by a team of industry experts, it’s a unique opportunity for emerging brands and designers on the African continent to grow their businesses. The chance to study at Polimoda now further amplifies the opportunity.

According to Simone Cipriani, Head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative and Chair to the UN Alliance of Sustainable Fashion:

We are very proud of this first for the fashion industry, a partnership between the UN and a world-renowned fashion institution. The designers in our Accelerator have the solid foundations of craftsmanship and sustainability, and this scholarship will push the designers to innovate, grow and create an impact.  This is the next generation of fashion talent and with EFI and Polimoda they will reach new heights.

According to the Director of Polimoda, Massimiliano Giornetti: 

We are honoured to have been chosen by the UN as a training partner for the Ethical Fashion Initiative project. Talent needs to be continuously nurtured by knowledge and cultural exchange, and we are here to make it possible. We welcome these Kenyan designers to our international community of creative talents, with the hope that innovative ideas related to sustainability and inclusiveness can arise from their experience at Polimoda.

 Focused solely on Kenya-based designers that had a distinct interest in sustainability and eco-conscious fabrics and methods, the Accelerator opted for brands that had a proven track record of energy efficiency, work with natural fibres, and upcycled or recycled fabrics.

The emerging brands were chosen for their talent, connection to African heritage, commitment to responsible sourcing and capacity to scale. A striking focus on traditional craftsmanship and a celebration of African artisanship in their collection are what links these brands together, noting their Kenyan roots as the inspiration behind their work.

Designer Quotes 

How cool is this?! Really looking forward to the opportunity to be surrounded by creative minds and talents. Polimoda is such a renowned institute offering some of the world’s most talented and skilled fashion-focused teaching in the world and here I am being given access to this wealth of knowledge…and then it’s in Florence?! Excited! – Katungulu Mwendwa, Katush 

It’s an incredible privilege and honour to have this opportunity to go back and learn and develop new skills amongst the top emerging fashion designers and fashion industry leaders. I’m very excited! – Louise Sommerlatte, Hamaji 

I’m really ecstatic to be joining Polimoda for the Master in bag design. Learning from the best in the industry and coming back to apply it to the brand will be an amazing experience! I am really looking forward to it! – Mohamed Awale, Suave 


For more information, contact:

Ethical Fashion Initiative: Chloe Mukai, [email protected]

Polimoda: Tessa Pisani, [email protected]

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