Dwayne Mukamiti : “You have to fight for it because in this industry all of us are fighting for one thing”
Published Wednesday, August 17 2022 | Dwayne Mukamiti by the-System *
I would flirt with the term ‘The High Priest’ of fashion styling of the new gen if i was asked to describe Dwayne Mukamiti and that would not even be a purple prose. Dwayne is the main character in his work, its Art and Craft. His work is compelling if not utterly provocative Now, It takes a certain je ne sais quoi to break through the noise when it comes to fashion and social media, but Dwayne — the Nairobian shit-hot stylist and fashion provocateur —has just that.
In conversation with the-System * , Dwayne is strong-minded and discerning. Although solicitous regarding the industry’s current output, his thirst for fashion is palpable, and accompanied by a fresh approach that all but erases the line between styling and design.
So first off give us a bit of an introduction of yourself ?
I’m Dwayne Mukamiti I’m 20yrs old based in Nairobi Kenya In a hood known as Jericho and I play with clothes.
How long have you been in the fashion industry and how did you get started ?
Wow , I’ve been in this industry for 6 yrs now first of all I like to start with how it all started , I grew up in a family full of ladies and I feel like so all my childhood life i used to play with dolls and you would always find me sewing wasted fabrics trying to create something for my dolls and also I feel like being raised in a family where people love clothes was just amazing like my mum is a thrifter even if you come to my home you’ll find a lot of clothes and also having iconic cousins also had a great impact in my fashion career so as I grew i decided I want to try modelling in which i was in form 1 where I used to identify myself as a model but things got tough when I used to go to casting because now that’s where I faced the reality and I was told that I can’t model because I’m too short for the industry, it was really hard for me to accept that I can’t model , Also it reached at a time where I wanted to give up because I knew nothing about style and I had No one to direct me on what I need to do I even remember reaching out to some creatives and they always told me `you just keep doing you we’ll shoot one day ‘ those words were really strong and painful to me but it also had an impact where I told myself that this is my battle and there’s no shortcut and I just have to fight for it, so I started styling myself and I had No access to any photographer because at that time they’re Charges were so high and we didn’t have the money to I pay for the shoots so I remember I used to take a bed sheet and I hanged them on the hanging line and took my mum’s phone and take pictures with it with my cousin in order to bring the vision to life and my mum too has also been very supportive ever since I started.
You cite growing up in a family full of ladies and fashion lovers and At 20 years, and coming from the city in an era that’s almost being defined by a pandemic, Do you feel like the convergence of those factors has influenced you fundamentally as a creative? and If so, to what extent?
Yes definitely, Actually I feel like from last year during the pandemic period I got to take and get to learn my creative process because there’s pressure in this industry especially let me just talk for myself because when I don’t create and seeing other creative posting new work I feel like I’m slacking so honestly I’d say I learned how to be patient with myself and not trying to rush myself because at the end of the day I create something that I feel like it’s not worth it
How would you describe what you do fully and what do you aim to get out of it ?
I described what I do as an image making and a high fashion styling, my main aim is to get to work with global designers and create a vogue magazine cover.
Interesting, so how would you describe your style as an Image maker, i see a lot of cues from avant garde , would you describe yourself as an avant garde image maker ?
My style is very bold and whenever I create something I have to make sure that the image creates attention and make people stare it at for a little bit trying to understand what’s happening in the image And yeah I would definitely identify myself as an avant-garde image maker.
I’m interested in learning about your process , what does it take to produce any give project?
Good question , so this is how it works let’s say if I’m working with brands you first need to identify the aesthetic of the brand , and when it comes to my personal work I take my time where I write ideas on my note book and if I can’t see it I’ll be forced to sketch a bit in order to see it
Where do you find your inspiration , for your personal projects what is your go to source?
Watching a lot of runway shows , and Ib Kamara too his one of my biggest inspiration, and also my work is inspired by the surrounding and just imagining things like if I see maybe let’s say some bucket and I feel like I can create something with it I find solutions to bring the vision.
How much do you reckon you spend on this projects in terms of production and where do the objects or pieces created go? Do the items have much resell value or are you not interested in that side of it?
I’m not interested in that side , actually after creating something I just keep them for myself or later projects.
Would you ever consider doing an exhibition for your work or something like that?
Yeah actually that’s been my dream.
How would you go about it if you were given a shot at it?
I feel like if given a chance each image will have a different story and make sure to come up with something that will make people wanna know more about it.
How often do you work on personal projects, do you ever run out of ideas or feel pressured to post often?
I take my time and source everything I need as I note things downs but also if I delay to do the project there more ideas that come and interfere with the first one so after I source everything and I feel like I’m ready I scout models and photographers then we plan when to do the shoot , Also I feel pressured to post often if it’s been so long since I created.
Social media brought a reckoning, and a way to put a light in the most overlooked wings of the fashion industry locally i.e styling modelling and to some extent make up and photography. How do you feel about social media and do you think that half the creatives that exist in these fields would exist without it?
I really thank God there’s social media because now things are easier because you connect with a lot of people and designers reaching out to you directly, and also I feel like half the creatives wouldn’t exist without social media because there would be no access to a lot of things like seeing someone else’s work would have been very difficult without it , social media has a great impact to the Creatives.
In your experience do you feel like the local industry supports young & upcoming creatives and what is the nature of the competition within industry players?
Yeah there’s a lot of support that’s why there agencies like modelling agencies and talented agencies where they take young talent creatives go abroad to strengthen their career and by helping creatives dreams come true , the industry itself is very hard so you have to fight for it because in this industry all of us are fighting for one thing like there a lot stylists, designers , photographers so it’s your work to make a name for yourself.
I love that fashion is far more than just putting on clothes. I love how it tells stories, and you’re able to convey confidence, and your swag, and your mood, and your mindset. This brings me to the question , what are you trying to say with your work?
Basically the message that I’m trying to pass is that clothing has no gender and people should be free to express themselves , and that style has no rules , in general just breaking the rules killing what is identified as gender norms in the societies.
We’re inherently moving toward a more global, interconnected world, Are you afraid that creativity is being diluted or what do you think about globalization? How do you see Africanness fitting into this new global culture?
I feel like Africans have an advantage where all of us have different cultures and people create based on what they know or what they’ve witnessed so I feel like us telling fashion stories with our cultures will have a great impact globally because it’s very interesting how people translate their fashion work with their culture stories.
This is a question I always love to ask creative practitioners who pull from real life to inform their work: do you think the world is fucked?
Yeah totally the world is fucked and it has reached a point where a lot of creatives tells stories on what they’ve gone through.
Would you describe yourself as a fashion collector, do you like archiving fashion items is that your thing ?
Yes yes , especially my mums icon necklaces and jewelries from the 1980’s and some of her iconic pieces.
Are we at the point in our culture where the stylist’s impact will arouse an entire movement in fashion? and what do you think about the local fashion industry now?
Yeah I really love how stylist are getting crazy with their work and getting noticed around the globe I feel like for the local fashion industry it’s good to be calm but at least sometimes it’s good to get out of the comfort zone and get crazy
Lets talk about your latest project “MUKAMITI ERA 2060” where are you taking us with that specifically what are you provoking us into, id like to get the essence of that?
So the projects i just wanted to take people through how my brain sees how fashion would be in the year 2060 and I had to custom make a lot of pieces basically just creating insane looks , I know by now fashion is wild but I wanted to show to the world fashion era would look like in the yr 2060.
Interesting , I believe Ib Kamara is an influential figure in your sort of mood board of inspirations , he has even given you a nod in one of your IG posts, how did that feel and how did you first come upon his work and what intrigued you the most about him?
I don’t even remember how I noticed him but the first thing when I got into his page my eyes were really fascinated with his work , I love how he puts everything together to create something sickening , Also I feel like the day we had a conversation with him and told me that he loved my work made me so proud and made me start imagining fashion not as fashion but as a work of art.
Are you familiar with Bevan Agyemang?
Yes yes Hands down for his work.
In your work i can feel the layers of storytelling, and character development. They are testament to the importance of creativity in the formation of identity. It does not function solely for commerciality. With that being said, What can we expect of you in the years to come how does that base philosophy evolve?
By telling more fashion stories and assuring people to be free with their clothes and not adhere to any societal rules. Expect a vogue magazine cover styled by me , working with big designers and being rated as one of the top stylists in the world.
Who are your favorite designers in Kenya right now?
Kikoromeo, AKiba , Metamorphisized and Boguk.
How about photographers ?
Maganga Mwagogo, Photoman, Ojwook , Captured by Odede, Tysevisual, Barutti
How would you describe Nairobi’s street style?
What do you hope for the creative industry in the future and what would you tell anyone trying to get into it?
I hope to see everyone fighting for it successful and the industry is hard so there’ll be ups and downs and that’s the fun part about it Go for it you can do it and become successful.
How do you want people to feel when they see your work?
I want people to feel free and also question a bit about my work. Feel free and this is a safe space where you can be whatever you imagine.