Adoption of the Kenya National Dress as a Basis for Developing a Decision-Making Model for the Local Industry: A Case of Nairobi, Kenya
Imo, Beatrice Elung’ata
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Endurance of many national dresses for centuries may be attributed to the high value traditionally attached to them and that they can be used either as daily or ceremonial wear. In an effort to brand the Kenyan identity, some fashion designers and the Kenya government came up with the concept of the Kenya National Dress (KND) in 2004. Unfortunately, this dress did not take root among Kenyans. Why has the general public not enthusiastically embraced the Kenya National Dress? The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors influencing adoption of the KND and form a basis for developing a decision-making model to enhance future adoption of local designs. Literature focussed on the development of the KND and its relevance to Kenyans. Purposive, snowballing and random sampling techniques were used to select a sample of 339 respondents comprising local fabric or apparel manufacturers, KND critiques, designers, custom tailors, traders in locally produced apparel and consumers to participate in the study by answering questionnaires. Data was analyzed and the results presented using frequencies and percentages obtained using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Chi-square was used to establish whether or not the respondents‟ socio-economic and business characteristics influenced their adoption of the KND. All the respondents were aware of the KND‟s existence mostly from television, magazines and newspapers. Though the KND design was found to be related to Kenyan communities‟ traditional dresses, the respondents suggested that the KND fashion models should be of darker skin colour, wear natural or braided hair and local sandals to present an authentic Kenyan image. Most respondents agreed that the KND outfits could be improved by using various local fabrics in the Kenyan flag colours while incorporating beadwork. From the Chi-square analysis (p<0.05), the factors that strongly influenced the respondents‟ adoption of the KND included the designers or custom tailors‟ designation or position and fashion design or construction training, the consumers‟ gender and highest education level. The decision-making model emphasized that the interaction between consumers, designers and custom tailors was key to increasing adoption of the KND. All the respondents agreed that Kenya needed a national dress for identification; were proud to have a national dress and were willing to make, sell and or wear the KND as pictured. In conclusion, respondents‟ willingness to adopt the KND was a significant sign of their loyalty to Kenya. Therefore, fabric/ apparel manufacturers, traders, and designers/ custom tailors should put into account the views of consumers when making new designs to promote the local industry.