Fashion & Ministry: Unveiling Kenya’s F&M Brand

F&M (Fashion and Ministry) Brand is a faith-based fashion brand based in Nairobi, Kenya. The Made in Kenya brand believes in dressing a person externally with edgy, fashion forward and exclusive designs but more so to dress them internally with grace, with power and with the wholesome word of God. They are a Fashion brand with a difference.

Couture Africa spoke to Fridah Ongili ahead of the F&M Brand showcase at Runway Kenya 2024 taking place within the East Africa textile and Leather Week in Nairobi.

Can you walk us through your design process, from inspiration to the final garment?

Our design process relies heavily on experimentation. Whatever idea we have, no matter how unusual or different it may seem, we are always ready to take the fashion risk and bring the idea to life. The risk always pays off with our beautiful, creative and fashion forward outfits.

Shopping for the fabrics is the first stage of the design process for us. We love bold fabrics that are different, eye catching and edgy. It is actually the fabric that inspires the direction we choose to go with the design. It dictates the type of outfit we will make.

We then proceed to sampling. At this stage we make any necessary adjustments/amendments and then we move to production once the design is approved. The last step is content creation after which our ready to wear designs are made available in our store and online.

The whole process, from start to finish, is done locally here in Kenya and we are very proud of that.

Tell us a little bit more about the creative force behind your brand.

The creative force behind F&M Brand is Fridah Ongili. She is our talented lead fashion designer. She loves to design pieces that are conversation starters, exclusive and Top Tier as evidenced by our pieces. She also firmly believes that God gave her, her gifts to impact the world for good and for God. She prays to raise a generation of Proverbs 31 women through her Fashion and Ministry.

What are the signature elements or recurring themes that define your design aesthetic?

Bold and unique prints, never before seen trendsetting designs, and fashion forward modest creations that present women to the world as classy, dignified and valuable women who are deserving of honour and respect.

Who or what are your biggest design inspirations? 

Our biggest inspiration is always our next design and our next idea. How can we design better than the last design? What new thing can we try? How can we outdo ourselves? That’s our inspiration.

Sustainability is a growing concern. Do you incorporate eco-friendly practices or ethical considerations into your design process?

Yes we do. To completely reduce wastage, we give our ‘waste’ fabric to other designers who repurpose the items to create new designs, make stuffed toys etc. We also encourage donations to the less fortunate in our society. Last but not least, We ensure to pay all our tailors and employees fair wages and provide them with a healthy and happy working environment.

What has been your biggest challenge as a designer so far? Conversely, what accomplishment are you most proud of?

Fashion is one of the most saturated markets in the world. It can be challenging to find your place. Finding my authentic voice and signature as a designer took me some time because I wanted to lead not follow. I wanted to stand out and not to fit in. It took me a while to figure it out, but I found my voice and authenticity. I found a way to present my brand to the world in a way that showcases the beautiful gift and talent that God gave me while I glorify my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. That is a great accomplishment because in it, I found my purpose i.e. Fashion and Ministry.

What are your predictions for the future of fashion? Are there emerging trends or technologies that excite you?

AI is the future for many industries and businesses right now and even in fashion. We are keen to incorporate AI in our business operations and especially in the design process.

3D printing of fabric is an exciting technology that we would love to incorporate in future as well as Virtual reality technology in the online shopping experience.

What should we expect from the collection you shall showcase at Runway Kenya 2024?

Its hands down our best collection yet. Expect Masterpiece after Masterpiece. It will be a jaw dropping runway experience.

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