Bridging the Gap: Kai Collective's Human-Centric Approach to Affordable Luxury
From Auditor to Fashion Entrepreneur: Fisayo Longe's Journey
By Ranji Mangcu
Women have always been drivers of culture – space-makers, building networks and transferring culture through every avenue available to them. What African American author of Black feminist theory Kimberlé Crenshaw coined as an “intersectional” experience has – in conjunction with undeniable genius, dynamism, and entrepreneurship – instilled range, empathy and perceptiveness that helps us understand the needs of society. It’s about identifying where we can fill the gaps, and where we can build anew.
From rectifying informational gaps about African fashion, to enacting the infrastructural development of African fashion industries through collaboration, what is apparent across the board is a commitment and renewed sense of priority to building a connective fashion industry, driven by collaboration and investment in the collective.
This year, Africa Fashion International is celebrating the women who are driving African fashion both on and off the continent, from all corners of the fashion system. Braving the somewhat apocalyptic realities of the world – from regional wars to climate and inflation crises – they are driven by visions of the African continent’s fashion futures.
From business and journalism to design and curatorship, women continue to move against the rules and limits of individualism, tokenism and glass ceilings to demonstrate the boundless possibilities of success and value-creation in the fashion industry.
One of those women is Fisayo Longe of the brand, Kai Collective.
After making the bold move of quitting her job as an auditor at KPMG, Nigerian fashion and travel blogger and businesswoman, Fisayo Longe founded Kai Collective.
Kai Collective presents a modern outlook on womanhood, community and high-end fashion, thus revolutionizing the African fashion industry by offering new standards for spectators and buyers alike. The brand is demonstrating that luxury does not have to follow traditional guidelines, but can be customized to better suit the needs of contemporary African fashion admirers and purchasers.
She detailed in a Forbes interview how her travels became a platform for exploring textiles - something that has become part of the label's signature style. This includes the brand's swirling, dynamic Gaia Print, which is meant to represent the ocean and features of the earth, as well as Irun Didi, inspired by Afro hair and its cultural and political significance.
Embracing social media as a chance to create an enclave, this label has answered the call for an African luxury fashion label that is up-to-date and relevant within the Nigerian context.
The label exemplifies the anti-individualistic value shifts that drive Millennial and Gen Z fashion consumers, redefining the metrics of success – investing in the opportunity to be:
“...A source of beauty, inclusivity, recognition and acceptance… making each member of Kai Collective’s community feel seen and valid...”
Whilst social media-driven trends, content creation and haul culture are receiving a cultural audit across the board, for Fisayo Longe, this phenomenon was the catalyst for the growth of Kai Collective.
Offering experimental and unique silhouettes, Kai Collective projects a youthful atmosphere which gives it staying power. On top of that, Fisayo Longe uses Instagram as a platform to provide followers with styling advice, fashion business knowledge and guidance.
Centering a progressive vision of womanhood, community and affordable luxury, Kai Collective is shifting the paradigm for African fashion brands – demonstrating how the traditions and parameters of luxury can be adapted upon to speak to a new generation of African fashion audiences and consumers.