Anthony Mulli’s first foray into fashion was customising his older sisters’ school uniforms. Although very interested in fashion and eager to learn more, he was afraid of society’s perception of “a boy playing with clothes and magazines… The stereotype put me off”. So instead he set his mind on joining the non-profit sector.
This all changed when he came across a strand of beads in a Nairobi shop. For some reason, this had an impression on him, so he went in search of books on jewellery-making and tried his hand at making necklaces.
At first it was for fun, but he offered his sisters a commission if they convinced their friends to order jewellery for their proms. His mum wore his jewellery to work and over time the orders started coming in and Katchy Kollections was launched. Katchy Kollections make what Anthony calls “affordable accessories” and are sold at outlets such as Banana Box, Blue Rhino and at various fairs in Nairobi.
Last year Anthony launched Jiamini, Kiswahili for “believe in yourself”, a high-end apparel brand. Anthony was raised by his single mother and realised that “[as a woman] you can lose yourself trying to raise kids, work, make sure that there is food, shelter and clothing”. He hopes that through Jiamini and his designs he can remind the women he dresses that “the one thing you truly carry is self-belief”. The brand name, however, is not only a reminder to the women he hopes to dress but to himself. His own self-belief has developed as he has grown his business.
Anthony is now in the formative stages of working on his eponymous experimental brand where he wants to work with different materials and create products that tell a story. He hopes to launch his first collection entitled ‘Beautiful Disasters’ next year. The dress, pictured above, will form part of that collection and is made almost entirely of black plastic bags. Anthony explains how we [Kenyans] throw out plastic bags, never appreciating their value and yet we use plastic bags to carry our shopping; women use the bag to cover their hair when it rains; and children who can’t afford a football fashion balls out of plastic bags.
This dress took Anthony about a month to make. In that time he learnt to crochet and there was a lot of trial and error. For example, the leather detail in the second iteration of the design to lend form to the dress.
Photograph by Zachary Saitoti.